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summer purslane

 

Botanical name: Portulaca oleracea


Portulak / Sommerportulak

 

The wild form of purslane has its origins in Greece, Africa, the Near East and the region reaching to the Himalayas. The Egyptians valued purslane as a vegetable and a healing plant and cultivated it.

In our area purslane appeared in the Middle Ages but was very quickly forgotten again, in spite of its healing properties. Even today it is relatively unknown and uncommon as a vegetable. It grows mainly in sunny places in vineyards and in unkempt gardens.

It is purposely planted chiefly in the Netherlands. Small amounts are also produced in France, Germany and Belgium.


Availability


Purslane is harvested mainly in July and August. Because it is a fast-growing plant, up to three harvests are possible in this time period. Winter purslane is available until the middle of February, and greenhouse produce can be delivered all year.


Appearance, taste, characteristics


Purslane is an annual plant that needs a great deal of warmth; it is low-lying at first and later grows upright. The sprouts can be from 8 to 40 cm tall and are conspicuous for their particularly fast growth. Round and oval green leaves form on the reddish sprouts and are somewhat thick and fleshy. From May to September light-yellow or orange blossoms grow between the leaves.

The nutty, acidic and somewhat salty leaves are eaten. Leaves of plants that are blooming taste bitter, so blossoming should be prevented by timely trimming of the plant.


Ingredients


High contents of beta-carotene, iron and magnesium are characteristic for purslane. The high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are rather unusual in a plant food, also make it valuable.

100 g contain:


Summer purslane, fresh
Energie (kcal)
27
Wasser (g)
90
Eiweiß (g)
1,5
Fett (g)
< 1
Kohlenhydrate (g)
4,3
Ballaststoffe (g)
2,5
β-Carotin (mg)
1,1
Vitamin B1 (μg)
30
Vitamin B2 (μg)
100
Vitamin B6 (μg)
150
Vitamin C (mg)
22
Folsäure (μg)
15
Kalium (mg)
390
Calcium (mg)
95
Magnesium (mg)
151
Phosphor (mg)
35
Eisen (mg)
2,5



Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions


When purslane is purchased the leaves should look fresh and juicy. Leaves that are already drying or are becoming smeary should be avoided. Purslane can be kept only a few days in the refrigerator crisper, so it is best to use it as soon as possible.


Presumed effect on health


Various healing properties are attributed to purslane; it is said to purify the blood and to be helpful for heartburn. Purslane tea is extolled as a remedy for bladder and kidney disorders.

The relatively high content of omega-3 fatty acids makes purslane interesting for scientists, who are investigating it as a remedy to prevent heart attacks and arteriosclerosis.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation


To date, purslane has not been used industrially. Nevertheless, the leaves can be used in many ways, both as a vegetable and as a seasoning. They can be prepared as a salad with head lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers and with a dressing of vinegar and oil.

Like cress, the leaves can be eaten with bread and butter and added to soups, stews, sauces, tartar sauce and curd cheese. In addition, purslane can be prepared like spinach, but with a much shorter cooking time.

As a seasoning, the leaves are used only fresh, not dried.

The blossom buds can serve as a substitute for capers.

 

 

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