This years garden. . . well, it hasn’t been exactly a flop. I’ve gotten quite a few tomatoes, cucumbers and squash out of it. However it hasn’t been an EXCELLENT garden, and I haven’t had a ton of excess to can. First the weeds got ahead of me, then the late blight hit the tomatoes, then I didn’t get fall crops planted early enough and many of the beans went past the “snap” phase directly into shell beans.
It’s years like this that you have to make lemonade out of lemons. Enjoy what you get, don’t stress over what’s not producing, and look for the hidden gems. So instead of being angry at the over abundance of weeds in the garden, I chose to look at it as a bumper crop of Purslane, Lambsquarter and more.
Today I’m going to talk about the Purslane.
What’s purslane? It’s an extremely common garden weed that happens to be not only edible but highly nutritious. According to Mother Earth News, Purslane is high in Vitamin E, and has vitamin C, magnesium, riboflavin, potassium, phosphorus and an essential omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (yes, omega-3 fatty acids are the healthy stuff that’s in fish oil).
Since the garden I planted hadn’t grown as well as I liked, I figured I better “Make it Do” with what God had blessed me with.
So what is purslane like? Raw purslane is sort of crunchy and lemony. Cooked it has more of a slimy texture. I know that sounds disgusting, but think Okra not slime mold! I’ve used it in Gumbo and stews without anyone being the wiser.
Here’s what some purslane looks like growing in my garden.
You’ve probably pulled this stuff out while weeding without realizing it was edible! The leaves are actually quite small-I took a picture with my hand in it to give you some perspective. It’s more of a succulent–the stems are round and juicy and the leaves remind me of a jade plant.
Now Purslane does have a toxic “look a like”–although I don’t think they look all that much alike. There is a plant called spurge that can superficially look like purslane. So make sure you really know that what you have is purslane before you eat any. The big giveaway on spurge is that when you cut the stems it gives off a white, milky sap–kind of like what dandelions do. Purslane does not give off a sap when cut! There is an article on how to correctly identify Purslane over at Forage Foodie that shows you the difference.
I had just gobs and gobs of purslane in the garden, more than we were ever going to eat fresh. So I picked it, cut off the roots, washed it well in several changes of water, steamed them for 5 min, then I pressure canned it using the directions for greens from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. (right there in the directions for greens it states that they are also for wild greens)
Note: The only safe way to can greens is by pressure canning, as they are a low acid food. You could also freeze them using the directions for freezing greens.
I canned my purslane in both pints and half pints (aka jelly jars). These are an item I plan to add into curries, soups, gumbo and things like that to add bulk and additional nutrition.
So instead of bemoaning the state of my garden I wound up with 7 jars of “free” purslane!