Friday, October 14, 2011

Eating the weeds, or are they herbs?

I fear I’ve over-weeded my garden.

Yes, it’s an odd thing to say at this time of year but after visiting the Lexington Farmer’s Market, I began searching gardens and yards for purslane, which I had before considered a weed. I know my friends in Nature's Thyme Herb Club would scold me. My excuse is that I'm still learning.

I saw purslane in my dad’s tomato bed, next to the plants he had just cut down for the season. I pulled a leaf and tasted. It was meatier than most greens and somehow pleasant although I didn’t eat enough to further define it. I assumed I would find it once I returned home because I’ve certainly pulled plenty of it from the gardens when I didn't want it taking over.

Learning about edibles like this is one of the things I love about visiting the Farmer’s Market. When the farmers and food producers don’t have a crowd of customers, they’re happy to chat with visitors about their produce. When I saw purslane for sale, I had to ask. The farmer told me it has more beta-carotene than a carrot and is quite coveted by gourmet chefs in New York’s finer restaurants.

Of course, being a journalist I always want to verify the information I hear, especially when it comes from someone who seems reliable but is also trying to sell something (that no knock on the farmer; I love them all). Several websites I found claim it’s high in anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acid, Vitamin C and Beta-Carotene. According to USDA statistics one cup of purslane provides 15 percent of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C and 11 percent for Vitamin A. The chart I looked at didn’t measure Beta-Carotene and Omega-3 so I’m still searching for a good source on those.

Other information I found suggested summer is the time to harvest it, so I won’t worry about that “over-weeding” until spring arrives. In the meantime, if you still have natural edibles growing in your garden, check our this article in The Herb Companion magazine for more information.

1 comment:

  1. Love your blog and appreciate the link to Herb Companion. I'm definitely going to be using some of these wild herbs! My mom cooked dandelion greens wen I was a kid but I didn't care for them...will have to try them with my grown-up taste buds!