foraging, Health, Recipes

Pickled Purslane

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I love it that people call me up and invite me to inspect their overgrown yards to search for lunch! There’s always SOMETHING edible growing… even through the crevices of the sidewalks. Here was a yard full of some of the most succulent and dense purslane and dandelion that I’ve seen in a while. In fact, it was the most green ANYTHING I had seen in a while here in the late summer of Southern California as we battle this unrelenting heat wave.

purslanePurslane is an excellent plant source to get your omega 3s, especially if you don’t care for fish (like myself). It contains more than twice the amount of omega-3s than any other leafy green, including kale.  It’s also loaded with protein, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, folate and vitamin A, C and E.

purslane2A closer look at the nutritional profile of purslane:

20 kcal
2g protein
3g carbohydrates
65g calcium
2g iron
68g magnesium
494g potassium
1,320g vitamin A
21g vitamin C
13.10g vitamin E
383g omega-3

What’s up with these Omega-3’s??
Omega-3’s are an essential fatty acid that our bodies need in contrast to the abundant Omega-6’s that are found heavily in the standard American diet (think seeds, processed oils and fats). These necessary fats are crucial for their role in eye, skin, and nervous system growth and maintenance. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, lower HDL cholesterol and triglycerides, reducing many factors of heart disease. The body needs a healthy balance of both 3’s and 6’s to function properly and other rich sources of omega-3s can be found in kale and wild greens as well such as shepherd’s purse and spiny sow thistle.

purslane5How to Prepare Purslane

These rich green leaves are thick and succulent with a very mild and pleasant flavor. They have a high water content and don’t wilt too quickly so that they’re still in good shape when you get home from harvesting… much unlike dandelion greens which are usually pitifully limp and wilted at that point.

Their interesting three dimensional structure makes for an unusual element when eaten raw in salads, but can also be cooked and sauteed much like any other green. Consider replacing the spinach, kale or other cultivated greens with purslane in any recipe. The stems can be rather thick, creating a crunchy and textural element that could be used in many other ways. They are especially wonderful when fermented, either pickled alone with some flavorful spices or added to a sauerkraut. I prefer simpler and less complicated recipes when I’m preparing foods, so here’s an easy way to create a basic fermented food using an unusual ingredient, but definitely room for experimentation.

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Pickled Purslane Stems

2 lbs purslane stems
5-8 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp red chili pepper flakes
6 cups of water
3 tablespoons non-iodized salt

Thoroughly clean a large container with hot water and soap.
Wash the purslane well and drain, pull the leaves from the stems and save for use later, or munch on them as you work! The leaves will keep well in the fridge for a few days and are convenient to add to other dishes .

Mix together the stems along with the garlic (whole or chopped), and red chili and pack into jar. Create the brine by combining the water and salt until the salt is completely dissolved. Pour the brine over the stems, ensuring there is at least 1/2 inch of brine at the top.

Allow to ferment for at least 4-5 days. Taste test along the way to find the length of time that tastes best to you!

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