Last Sunday, as I was gracefully dawdling my way through the organic produce at the farmers markets, I stumbled upon a fresh bunch of purslane. For those of you who don’t know it, purslane is a succulent plant often classed as a ‘pig weed’. It grows like wildfire here in Australia and has adapted to most conditions.
I’m sure that many of you will be surprised to know that purslane is in fact an edible ‘weed’ and a hugely nutritious one at that. Booming with nutrients, purslane is one of the highest known plant-based sources of Omega-3 essential fatty acids – an excellent choice for Vegans and Vegetarians. It also contains an abundance of Vitamin A (one of the highest among leafy greens), Vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium & potassium. The high content of iron and Vitamin C in purslane it a match made in heaven, as iron is absorbed much easier with Vitamin C as a kick-starter. The addition of purslane to your diet may help to protect from lung and oral cancer, maintain healthy skin, reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and help prevent developmental differences in children.
As for accessing purslane, it’s generally hard to purchase as a food so you will most likely need to grow it in your garden (or on your balcony) – ask for it at your local farmers market or nursery. To identify purslane, it spreads out flat when it grows, it has green succulent leaves and reddish tinged stems. If you’re lucky enough to find it growing in the wild or at a friends house – pull a section up by the root and take a little segment home to propagate yourself.
What do you do with it? Well, it’s best consumed in its raw form, as when you cook foods with essential fatty acids, they no longer retain their highest degree of nutrients. I like to wash mine in cold water & apple cider vinegar, chop off the roots (you can propagate with these), pick off the leaves and chop the stems. You can add this to salads, smoothies, and juices or even top your meals with it. In the salad below, I just added the purslane leaves and stems raw. Because of its citrus-y flavor, it goes incredibly well in a salad with pears or apples.
Love elsie x