Portulaca oleracea

If you have a garden, it is very likely that you’ve seen (and possibly cursed) this weedy cousin of Moss Rose. In fact, its Latin species name “oleracea” means “of the garden”. I hope you’ll be happy to know that not only is this low-growing succulent plant edible…..it is delicious, to boot! and because the roots aren’t terribly deep, I like to let it spread, to keep the quack grass from taking over the garden.

Purslane is as versatile as it is prolific – you can eat the leaves and stems raw or cooked – in sandwiches, salads, soups and hot dishes. I even pickled some last year and they were absolutely fantastic. I was a little nervous after I poured the hot pickling brine in the jar packed with purslane leaves and stems, as they shrunk up quite a lot and I was afraid they would be a slimy mess. But….they were not slimy at all, and amazingly kept their texture and were very delicious. You can use any pickling recipe you like. I like a simple brine: 2 cups mild vinegar (rice vinegar or white wine vinegar), 4 cups water, 3 T salt and some garlic cloves. Boil, pour into jars packed with Purslane leaves and stems. Cover tightly, refrigerate after cooling. So yummy!

Like all other wild foods, Purslane packs a lot of vitamins and minerals, plus it is a rich source of heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids. As a succulent plant, the leaves and stems are nice and juicy, and the flavor is a tiny bit tangy. I love eating it straight out of the garden. It keeps well in the refrigerator, too, so you can have it handy to put into your salads and whatnot. Here are some great recipes that feature this abundant (not so) wild food.