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Purslane: Health Benefits and Recipes | What is Purslane? | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Purslane: Health Benefits and Recipes

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A Weed Worth Keeping

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I have never planted purslane yet it appears every spring in my garden. Like many other weeds, purslane is not only edible but also far more nutritious than many of the crops that we plant! Learn more about purslane’s health benefits and how to cook purslane.

Common purslane, Portulaca oleracea, is a succulent used in Greek and Italian cooking, even though it’s often seen as a weed here. Immigrants from India originally brought it with them, where it has escaped into gardens and backyards and is now naturalized all over the world. Over the many centuries, purslane has been treated as a medicinal wonder, as a cultivated ornamental, as an annoying weed, and as an edible leafy green!

Purslane leaves resembles those of a tiny jade plant. When plucked for recipes, they lend a lemony, tangy flavor that’s reminiscent of sorrel; it’s a good substitute for watercress, spinach, and arugula.

Purslane Health Benefits

Amazingly, purslane is one of the world’s most nutritious wild edible plants. It’s now considered a “superfood” is showing up in farmer’s markets and even “fancy” restaurants all over the country often in salads or sandwiches. Meanwhile, gardeners will find purslane growing right in their vegetable bed!

Nutritionally, purslane can boast:

  • Seven times the beta-carotene of carrots!
  • Six times more vitamin E than spinach!
  • Fourteen times more Omega 3 fatty acids (found mostly in fish)!
  • Significant amounts of vitamins A and C, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium and antioxidants

Purslane is also said to be a natural remedy for insomnia. It has many of the same health benefits as other leafy greens.

What is Purslane: Crop or Weed?

Purslane is a plant that most of us here in North America consider a weed. Because I now know it’s a healthy green, I let it grow in between my rows of carrots and beets and in other places where it isn’t bothering my veggies. Once it is touching my crops, I take it out and eat it!

To harvest purslane, it’s a good idea to pull it up completely, then cut off the stems from the piece attached to the root.

Compost the rest of the plant (the root) or feed to your chickens! Some companies are now actually selling the purslane seeds so that it can also be added to a garden on purpose. A delightful, nutritious extra for the enthusiastic gardener.

How to Cook Purslane

How do people eat purslane? Once you’ve cut off the root, the individual stems needs to be washed carefully. Purslane has little crevices to hold the soil, so you really need to use a hose to get ALL the dirt off. 

  • Purslane is usually tossed into salads or added to soups in the Mediterranean area
  • In Mexico, it’s a favorite addition to omelettes. 
  • Purslane can also be lightly steamed for 4 to 5 minutes, then served with salt and a little butter.
  • Purslane goes very well mixed with cucumber and topped with some oil-and-vinegar dressing.
  • Also try adding purslane to smoothies or juicing it.

Purslane Recipes

Here’s a great purslane salad: Fingerling-Potato and Purslane Salad with Grainy-Mustard Dressing.

Or try adding this nutrient-packed green to any soup. I like to add to my purslane to my bone broth soup which is delicious! (You can also add seasonal lamb’s quarters, dandelions, purslane, nettles, amaranth, and herbs for health.)

Another option is to freeze purslane to add it to soups through the cold winter months! See how to freeze greens.

What do you think of purslane? Would you add it to your diet? Let us know!

2023 Almanac Club