Enjoying Wild Foods: Purslane

By , August 23, 2009
Purslane Salad with Tomatoes and Cucumbers

Garden Salad with Purslane, Tomatoes, and Cucumbers

Once you discover the world of edible wild plants, you realize that there’s food everywhere! Even in the asphalt jungle of an urban environment.

Purslane is a very common weed that I often see growing in sidewalk crevices or in barren, disturbed soil. It’s extremely nutritious, so I was happy to find it growing near our apartment recently.

As a side note…I am selective about my weeds. 🙂 I don’t eat anything that’s growing near busy streets (pollution) or looks like it’s been sprayed with herbicide (the plant will have a deformed, gnarled look). Unfortunately, grassy areas of parks are often sprayed with chemicals. Use your judgment. But alleys and areas of overgrown shrubbery in neighborhoods are a great place to find edibles! I often snack as I’m walking, picking small bits from peoples’ plants that are growing out over the sidewalk (or, heck, up through the sidewalk!)

Wild Purslane

Wild Purslane often grows on barren, disturbed soil.

I learned to eat purslane a long time ago, while reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau. He would boil and eat purslane for dinner.

I enjoy it both raw and cooked; when raw, it has a light, tangy lemon flavor that I like. It’s a nice addition to salads because it lends subtle flavor, texture variation, and nutrition (as I said, wild purslane is extremely nutritious!!). And unlike many edible weeds, it’s not bitter! 🙂

Fresh Purslane

In the photo below, I’ve sauteed it in a bit of butter (roots, stems, and leaves) and added raw green onions and parsley on top. Cooked, the texture is a bit like okra (mucilaginous). It cooks quickly, and I didn’t get mine out of the pan soon enough…but it was still good! I love wild foods! They’re fun to collect, very nutrient-dense, and they’re free!

Do you have a favorite way of preparing purslane?

Sauteed Purslane with Green Onions and Parsley

Sauteed Purslane with Green Onions and Parsley

4 Responses to “Enjoying Wild Foods: Purslane”

  1. Mallory says:

    As you said, it cooks like okra…I used it in a turkey gumbo once and even my friend (who only eats carrots and iceberg lettuce because he knows he needs them to survive) enjoyed it. Well, he said, “it’s ok…” which counts. 🙂 Thanks for spreading the joy of purslane!

  2. Lindsey says:

    Oooo, purslane in turkey gumbo! What a great idea. ‘Tis the season for turkey, but not really for purslane (at least where I live). I wonder how well purslane freezes. An experiment for next summer!

  3. Mike says:

    i just pick a few purslane leaves off and eat them they have a really low sweet taste not much at all i found my purslane after i have made our garden in the back yard and at first i thought it was a sedum plant because thats what they look like to me oh and only 4 purslane plants popped up in the garden i wonder if we could eat wild sedums cause i have a lot of them and less of purslane.

  4. Mike says:

    now i have to do a search to see if sedums are ok for us to eat it would be good to know

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