Purslane - An Herbal Recipe for Long Life
This vegetable is a whole healthy, crispy salad all by itself.
If you are like most gardeners you weed. And weeding in the south, you’ve pulled-out a lot of Purslane. Chances are you trashed or composted it or simply tossed it aside. Too bad – you could have had a healthy, exotic snack. Throughout the south Purslane can be found growing everywhere, along walkways, in driveways, and even in the street.
Fresh out of the garden this vegetable is a whole healthy, crispy salad all by itself. Purslane, Portulaca oleracea, is a member of the Portulacaceae family along with the more showy, Portulaca grandiflora, also known as Moss Roses.
Purslane has thick green lobed or paddle shaped leaves which form clusters. Its red stems may be seen creeping across the ground or standing upright. It can easily be confused with members of the Crassulaceae family, ornamental Jade and some ground-cover Sedum plants. Sedums have a peppery acrid taste, whereas Purslane is milder, spinach-like to almost sweet. Both families of plants are succulents. That is, like cactus, they are mucilaginous, hold a lot of water, and do well in arid climates.
Purslane can be eaten raw - just pick, wash, and eat - or use it in salads. Eaten raw it has the crispy texture you would expect from a succulent. You can use it on sandwiches in place of lettuce or pickles.
Of course it can also be cooked. A cupful of stems and leaves mixed into a casserole will thicken and add texture to the dish. Boil-up a bunch of it to make a gumbo. The mucilaginous activity suggests use for a non-drip basting or sauce – such as ketchup which doesn’t flow until you whack or squeeze the container.
High in Alpha-linolenic, an Omega-3 fatty acid
The varieties of Purslane do well down south being found in just about any crack, crevice, or open garden space. A driveway crack , a walkway crevice, or a fine textured spot in a fertile garden are all equally attractive as home to Purslane. Purslane doesn’t appear until the soil gets hotter. Usually you can start seeing it in June.
According to Wikipedia, Purslane contains more alpha-linolenic acid than any other leafy vegetable. Alpha-linolenic is one of the Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil which the body converts into other acids that reportedly lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It is also rich in vitamins A and C, and some vitamin B and carotenoids, as well as dietary minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron.
In Asia, Purslane is known as Tsong-suoshu Tsai (Long Life Vegetable.) It is used fresh in many far eastern haute cuisine recipes in India and China. The dried vegetable is used in herbal medicines for poisoning, arthritis, diabetes, and others. The fresh herb may also be applied as a poultice to relieve sores and bites on the skin. Use it the same as you would aloe vera.
You can find it for sale on the internet in a number of websites. The following online medical indications for Purslane treatment are: dysentery due to fire toxins or damp heat, bloody urinary tract infections, vaginal discharge, uterine bleeding, post partum bleeding, snake bites, wasp stings. It may be an inexpensive way to improve regularity in place of something like Metamucil as it is indicated for both diarrhea and constipation.
Purslane was favored by Chinese emperors and Mao Zedong, but today’s well heeled Chinese and Taiwanese may sneer and disparagingly refer to it as pig food. But that makes it an Arkansas or Texas natural for razorbacks and feral hogs. It can serve as a beneficial companion ground cover. The roots of other plants, including corn, will follow Purslane roots through hard and rocky Ozark soil.
Here is a delicious recipe you have to try.
Here’s a delicious recipe for two people to be used as a side to a whitefish dinner. This dish offers the crispy succulence of bean sprouts, but is infinitely more lively and much better tasting. If you’re a food lover, you simply have to experience this.
Briefly boil slightly less than one-half pound of leaves and stems, boil about as long as you might boil okra for a finger food snack. Drain and soak in cold water to allow it to regain any crispiness that may have been lost and to keep it from feeling slimy. Next, drain the cold water and let sit. Make a dressing with about three cloves ground or chopped garlic, an equal amount of chopped green onion, and one chopped chili pepper or habanero. Add a pinch of sugar and black pepper, a little dry wine (one teaspoon), one tablespoon each of soy sauce and olive oil, and a hint to one-forth teaspoon sesame oil. Mix the dressing into the cooked Purslane and enjoy. Even with two jalapenos, and one habanero it is not too spicy – the starches in the Purslane buffer the spiciness.
Savior of the Planet
Purslane once saved the planet from a global warming catastrophe. Long ago ten suns appeared. They were making the planet too hot, killing all the people. Ho Li was a great master. Ho used his bow to kill nine of the suns. Ho would have killed the tenth sun also, but it hid behind some Purslane and escaped. Tenth Sun then promised Purslane that the sun would never parch its leaves.
There is some evidence to the granting of long life from eating Purslane in Marion County, Arkansas. Born in 1916, Violet Hensley, the famous fiddle maker from Yellville – the late Senator Byrd played No. 14 of the 76 fiddles she has made - introduced me to the herb when I was helping her weed some mustard greens. She claims her and her folks ate buckets of the stuff during the depression and she still enjoys it occasionally. Violet is 104 and will be working in Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri.. She’ll be making fiddles and fiddling around (You know Violet!) the same as she has every year since 1967.
Now if you are in the category of those who just cannot bring themselves to eat something which just popped-up in the garden, you can buy seeds and grow your own. Cultivated varieties grow more upright and have richer flavor. You may also buy the plant in hanging baskets – I found one with beautiful yellow flowers at a friend’s home in Mountain Home, Arkansas in a hanging basket. Lowes and Home Depot also carry the plant growing in pots.
Purslane makes pretty red, yellow, or pink flowers which drop off and form new again. More recently it has become known as the Dolly Parton flower because it blooms from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The seductive beauty of the flowers makes it an exceptional house plant that you can nibble on occasionally.