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Growing Herbs in Texas: Growing Purslane

10/2/2009 10:34:15 AM

Tags: Growing Herbs in Texas, My Garden, Cynthia Meredith, Texas, Purslane, Weeds, Edible Weeds, Recipes

C.Meredith

Cynthia Meredith has been gardening with herbs, reading about herbs, and discussing herb gardening in Texas for more than 20 years. She has owned The Herb Cottage (www.theherbcottage.com) for over 10 years, selling herb plants to people all over our state.

Well, it's October. I love the month of October. In my area it's still hot some days... like today, for instance. It's quite warm, near 90 degrees and very humid. I'm hoping for a rain shower today as it is clouding up. As October continues the days become noticeably shorter, cooler and the sun has a golden glow that infuses the garden and landscape with a warm feel. Soon, it will be time to put cold tender plants under cover for winter.

With all the rain we've had recently, almost 7 inches for the month of September, the yard and gardens are blowzy with growth and new flowers. It looks like it did in spring after we had almost 7 inches of rain in 3 days.

  10-2-2009-2
Podrangea in full flower after the rains at The Herb Cottage.

10-2-2009-1
So much new growth. Climbing pinkie rose in background with new leaves (flowers to come) at The Herb Cottage.

The roses have put on new leaves, as have the fig trees. Everything is growing so quickly. It's as if the energy from the sun stored in the plants over the summer is surging out due to the rain. Perhaps the plants know cold weather isn't too far off and they want to grow as much as possible in order to strengthen the root system and be strong for next spring.

As I wrote last issue, the weeds are also enjoying a resurgence. For instance, I have a bumper crop of purslane (Portulaca olearacea), also an edible weed like the Lamb's Quarters I wrote about last week.

10-2-2009-4
Purslane, Portulaca olearacea.
Photo courtesy of www.wildmanstevebrill.com

Purslane is not so much a seasoning herb as it is a vegetable-type plant. The leaves are eaten fresh in salads, and steamed, or sauteed, as a side dish. The flavor is a bit lemony, some say peppery, and the texture is crunchy. One of the most amazing properties of purslane is that it is very high in calcium and Omega-3 fatty acids (five times that of spinach). Also, the stems are high in vitamin C.

10-2-2009-3
Purslane buds and leaves.
Photo courtesy of www.wildmanstevebrill.com

In Latin America, purslane is known as verdolaga and it is very popular. It is also commonly used in the Mediterranean in soups and salads and is also found in the cuisines of Africa, Australia, China and India. In fact, it is used worldwide, and is just beginning to be known in America as anything other than a weed.

The crispy leaves are easy to prepare fresh with just olive oil, a bit of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Some added basil doesn't hurt either! Purslane can't really be preserved for future eating, the texture of the plant doesn't hold up. But, the leaves can be dried and used in soups, etc. Just 10 grams of dry leaves provides 500 mg of elemental calcium, which studies have shown to increase bone density in less than 18 months, according to information adapted from books by Dr. James Duke and an article by Sukhi Hertz.

So, while you may not want a whole garden filled with portulaca, it is a prolific reseeder and creeper. You might want to grow it in a large container away from your garden beds or keep a patch or two for kitchen use. It's good for you, it likes Texas heat and humidity, it grows with little water....and it's free!

Cucumber-Purslane Yogurt Salad

• 5 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded and cut into quarter-round slices
• 1/4 pound purslane, large stems removed, washed and drained well
• 2 tablespoons each, Fresh chopped mint, cilantro and chervil
• 4 cups whole milk yogurt
• 1/4 cup virgin olive oil
• 3 cloves garlic, puréed with the blade of a knife
• 2 teaspoons ground coriander
• Kosher salt
• Ground glack pepper

1. Place the cucumber, purslane and herbs into a large bowl. In another bowl, stir together the yogurt, olive oil and garlic, coriander and season to taste with salt.

2. Add the yogurt mixture to the vegetables and mix well. Add a pinch of ground black pepper.

3. Taste the dressed cucumber-purslane salad for seasoning, adding a little more salt if needed. Serve chilled.

Copyright © 1999 StarChefs All rights reserved
 



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