Your Small Kitchen Garden has kept me very busy this summer, but I haven’t been able to write much about it. I’ll tell that story in an upcoming post. Fortunately, my brother is passionate about many gardening topics, and he sent me this piece about benefiting from one of the weeds that probably grows in your garden.
Kris’s last guest post was about making sauerkraut, and it has been very popular. So, I’m pleased to offer up his take on how you should treat purslane, this very common weed.
Weed Eating, no Machines Required
by Kris Gasteiger
Down here in Bowie, Maryland, the season is passing, but up in Pennsylvania and New York, you may still have a chance to harvest one of the best vegetables we don’t tend to grow intentionally. Purslane!
Around here, purslane is a warm season weed of disturbed ground (Gardens for instance) as it is in most of the eastern US. In France and India, it is grown as a garden vegetable and there are different cultivars which tend to be more upright than our local weeds.
I let my purslane get six to twelve inches long before weeding it out and taking it to the kitchen. This week, I picked about five pounds in ten seconds when I encountered a giant plant and its twin in one of the beds I take care of for the city of Bowie. It is best harvested before it flowers and goes to seed. The seeds give it a grittiness that’s unpleasant at best and the stems toughen as they age.
Purslane takes hold easily on bare ground, and so shows up in gardens all over the northeast. If you usually toss it in the compost when you weed, at least once take some to your kitchen and serve it up with a meal.
In the kitchen, I pinch off the roots and any thick tough stems. Leaf Miners can infest purslane, so check for and remove any affected leaves. Rinse the purslane in a sink of cold water, lifting it to drain in a colander while you get ready to cook it. (It’s good raw in salads and sandwiches too.)
To cook your free greens, put some good olive oil or butter in a big pan, saute a clove or two of minced garlic in the oil, and add the damp purslane before the garlic begins to change color. Stir until the purslane wilts, and serve.
Options: include herbs of your choice (basil, thyme, oregano, dill…), some lemon juice, onions, a dash of hot sauce or cider vinegar, bacon, ham, or fat back. Be creative, it’s all good.
Purslane goes well in cream soup, omelets, quiche, and any other recipe in which you would use a green vegetable; it even pickles well.
Nutritionally, purslane has a lot of vitamin C among other nutrients and minerals. It is one of the few land-based sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.