Thursday, May 24, 2012

My First Foray Into Wild Edibles

Every year when we put out our garden there is this certain weed that absolutely wants to take over. Last year we put straw down, which made a remarkable difference. We are going to do the same this year - probably this weekend. My husband has tilled in between the rows in the meantime to keep the weeds under control. But, this weed is still cropping up in the rows where our veggies are growing.

Then, a few days ago I  read this blog post from New Life on a Homestead about a common garden weed. MY common garden weed. Turns out that it isn't a weed after all. It's actually a super food called purslane. Go figure. 

I'm starting to realize that many of the plants that we consider weeds are actually some of the most nutritious foods on the planet. 

Take the lowly dandelion, for instance. That little plant is the nemesis of every man who desires a green lawn in the nation. But, it's actually very good for food. It's leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked many different ways. It's roots can be roasted and ground up and brewed as coffee. The flowers are also edible and are supposed to be a favorite when battered and fried. Though I've never eaten (or drank) it, I hear it is really yummy. It's also a powerhouse of nutrition that is fantastic for your liver, among other things.

But, we're talking about purslane today...


This is what says about purslane:

...also called Summer Purslane - purslane usually grows spread out flat on the ground. It can be found growing in almost any unshaded area, including flower beds, corn fields, and waste places. Purslane can be found growing in cold climate areas (e.g., Canada) as well as warm areas (e.g., the Caribbean).
Medicinal Uses:

Verdolaga is also valued in Latin America for its medicinal properties. Purslane contains more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plants, and may have positive effects on the brain and may aid in such conditions as depression, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer's disease, autism, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity and migraines. For other medicinal uses see:

American Indians used the plant as a poultice for burns, juice for earaches, tea for headaches and stomachaches.

Pretty cool, eh?

It's also an excellent source of vitamins A, C and E and the essential amino acids. So, I figured that I needed to try this wonder food. Crab cakes were on the menu for the night and I don't have any of the parsley that I usually put in it, yet. So, I thought it would be a great night to try the purslane. I went out the garden and pulled some of it, washed it really well in water and then spun it dry in my salad spinner.  

Since it can be eaten cooked or raw, I tasted one of the leaves. It has a very mild, but tasty flavor. It is supposed to be very similar in taste and consistency to watercress, but I've never eaten it so I can't vouch for that fact.
For my crab cakes, I simply cut the roots off and added the amount I needed to the food processor, stems and all. They're edible, too. Next, I added the rest of my ingredients to the food processor to finish chopping and mixing everything together.

Evidently, purslane is also a very popular salad green in Europe. Considering we were having salad with our dinner (and I've been buying the el cheapo bagged iceberg lettuce lately) I picked off the leaves of some more of my purslane and added to the salad mix to bump up the nutritional value of my otherwise pretty nutritionless bagged salad.

Not only is it tasty, but it's pretty, too. :-)

All in all, I really liked the purslane and will definitely use it again.
You probably realize this, but I'm going to mention it anyway. Don't eat wild edibles from places that are likely to have been sprayed with pesticides or that grow too close to the road where they would be covered in exhaust fumes. I felt confident using the purslane from my garden because we don't spray. We've actually found that our garden seems to do better than most people's in our area and I think it's because we leave it alone and try to build the soil quality every year. Healthy soil makes for healthy plants.
I'm amazed at how many wild edibles that we have around us and are clueless about. I would really like to start learning more about them. It just so happens that Wild Cards is a deck of cards that has pictures and information on 52 different wild plants that you can eat. It includes information on where each plant is found, how to cook it and its medicinal uses. I really need to get one of those decks.
So, tell me - have you ever eaten weeds?

I'm sharing this post with Wildcrafting Wednesday.

* UPDATE: I have had a couple of people tell me that the link to the Wild Cards took them to an, um, unsavory website. I apologize for that. On my Mac it took me right where it was supposed to. In an effort to fix the problem I changed the link. Please, let me know if it is still not working right and I will just remove it altogether and you can just google it for yourself. ;-) Thanks, y'all!


  1. This is really good to know! I actually bought a pack of green purslane seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds some time back since I thought it might be a good salad green in the hot summer. Just haven't planted them yet! So, it's funny that it comes up like a weed to you! :) I will definitely have to plant and try it now.

    1. I never realized that you could even buy seeds for it! How funny! You'll have to let me know how you like it if you plant it.

  2. Sister you amaze me! lol. I actually think this grows in my garden every year and it ticks me off! lol. I haven't seen it yet this year though.

    1. It always ticked me off, too because it grows so stinkin' fast! If you have it crop up in the garden this year you'll have to show it to the kids and have them try it. They'd probably get a kick out of it. :-)

  3. Great post! I'm your newest follower!

  4. Great blog, I have been learning about herbs on Herb Mentor dot com. They charge $9.95 a month or you can do a year, there are plenty of freebies, and I got a free healthy herb poster.

    I followed you from another blog you commented on, and would actually like to discuss something with you. The blog was about a sugar scrub, and you mentioned you put lemon in yours to control the bumps on the back of your arm. My husband had this, and all three of my children have them. Would like to know more, maybe you could blog about it, new follower.

    Here is my email if you want to chat more on the topic edjumpoff at yahoo dot com.

    1. Hi Joyce,

      I have had good success (and so has my son) with using a sugar scrub and then following up with moisturizer on those pesky arm bumps. Apparently they are often from dry skin.

  5. When i clicked on the highlighted "wild edibles" from your blog, it took me to a porn site! Eeeewwww! Other than that, and im being sincere, i think you have a very interesting and informative blog:)

    1. Tara, I'm horrified to hear that the link went to a porn site. I will go check it out right now and get it fixed. Thank you for bringing this to my attention!!!

    2. Ok Tara, when I clicked "Wild Edibles" in this post it took me right to the site to buy the deck of cards. I have a Mac because they rarely have issues with that type of thing. We used to have that issue with our PC. If anyone else has an issue when you read this, PLEASE, let me know!

  6. I tried your link on my Android phone and also got sent to a grody porn site.

    That is really awesome about the purslane! I have also seen this in our garden a lot, and pulled it as a weed. Another one you gotta ck out is the herb plantain.

    1. Gosh! I'm so sorry it sent you to porn as well. :-( I have no idea how to fix it, as it doesn't do that for me. Maybe I'll just delete the link altogether. But, on a better note - I love plantain! Use it all.the.time. I even use in some of my products in my Etsy shop. :-) And, I love that it is everywhere - very handy for summer bug bites and bee stings when you're out and about. ;-)

      Thanks for weighing in!

  7. Just found your blog by way of your eye cream recipe and LOVE it! The blog... haven't tried the eye cream yet.
    LOVE this post on foraging. I've been wanting to get into this for an age. I adore dandelion greens and harvest and make them often. They are delicious and SO nutritious too! I'm trying to figure out exactly how to keep my back yard a bit tidy this year and still save the dandelions. Tricky...
    I'm attending a course in a couple of weeks that will teach exactly what I can eat from around these parts straight from nature. I'm so excited!
    Wish you were still posting. Love your insights and advice!


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