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Jul 23, 2008 11:59 AM

Edible weeds

It's been raining like crazy around DC lately and I've been noticing quite a diverse range of WEEDS growing all over my lawn and garden, driving me crazy. With that said, I have recently found out that purslane is quite edible and actually pretty delicious. I just went out and pick off a stem from one and popped it in my mouth. Peppery and slightly sweet, with a slight okra-goo finish. Yum

I'm wishing to take advantage of what could have been a bad back-breaking experience uprooting every one of these weeds and expand my culinary repertoire. Does anyone know of any other edible weeds and what recipes can be applied with them? I also would recommend providing pictures along with identification so an uninformed individual (mostly myself) won't get poisoned by the wrong weed

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  1. Dandelion greens are cooked like any other form of green. Common mallow (which infests my yard) is edible, but I don't know how it's cooked. Oxalis is a form of sorrel and is edible. Note that a site I saw about eating your weeds said you should be careful about eating plants that have been exposed to pesticides, herbicides and animal waste. Here's a site on "foraging" with a list of edible plants and pictures for identification:

    1. Although I've never tried it, I see people picking dandelion greens all the time. Batali just mentioned picking your own the other day on Molto. Maybe check this out:

      1. When I lived in Alexandria VA, I was surprised to see epazote growing through sidewalk cracks! Until that time, I had been buying it at specialty stores for use in Mexican cooking.

        When I pick dandelion greens, I try for the youngest shoots as the older growth is both tougher and more pungent. This goes for mustard as well.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Sherri

          Oh wow, I have those growing all over my yard. Any suggestions for how to eat them?

          1. re: takadi

            "Oh wow, I have those growing all over my yard. Any suggestions for how to eat them?"

            Do you have epazote and dandelion and mustard or what?

            1. re: Sherri

              I think epazote, but upon further inspection, I'm not too sure...

              1. re: takadi

                I would make certain before eating anything. Epazote has a very pungent smell. Is there a Mexican or Central American market nearby? Perhaps they could identify it for you.

            2. re: takadi

              dandelion greens? just wash and use like you would arugula (unless they're tough - then like collard - works for poke too, just takes longer)

          2. Purslane (verdolagas in Spanish) is a common ingredient in Mexican stews.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Leucadian

              A Mexican friend also dresses lightly boiled purslane with lemon juice, salt, and diced jalapenos. I eat chard that way and it's excellent.

              1. re: Leucadian

                A local Mexican (Sonoran) restaurant where I live sometimes has enchiladas verdolagas (with a green sauce). Very tasty. It's nice to know that it's also healthy.

                1. re: Leucadian

                  Purslane is also good as a pickle. Use any refrigerator pickle recipe (like dilly beans) and keep it handly to serve in or with a sandwich.
                  BTW you can buy seeds for same and they can be either the flat growing kind you find wild, or the upright type.
                  While you are foraging you might also consider cattails. The brown part you normally see in flower arrangements is good when it is picked green a bit larger than a pencil and is cooked like corn on the cob, served with butter.

                  1. re: Leucadian

                    Verdolagas is summer purslane, portulaca oleracea. Also called pigweed, little hogweed, and pusley. Wikipedia has a good article with culinary uses.

                    Miner's lettuce is winter purslane, claytonia perfoliata. Also called spring beauty and Indian lettuce.

                  2. Purslane is super super good for you. First heard about it from Dr. Oz on Oprah, so I bought some seeds to grow my own.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: carey24

                      They just randomly popped up in my garden, all over the place. I heard that if you tear off a piece of the stem, it'll use it's reserves to spread its seeds all over the place. Some actually reroot themselves.

                      I was surprised to hear that purslane has the highest amount of omega 3 of any leafy green out there.

                      1. re: takadi

                        I got all excited about posting about miner's lettuce, and then looked it and realized it was winter purslane. Funny story: first time I saw it I was wandering on a friend's property: an edible week. The very next week, I saw it on Postrio's menu listed as miner's lettuce, not purslane.

                        1. re: maria lorraine

                          Miner's Lettuce has a more exotic ring and sounds expensive; purslane sounds like a common weed. A restaurant can charge more for a rare-sounding food than for a very common, grows everywhere (including sidewalk cracks) one.

                          Ermine tails have long been a clothing status symbol and have graced the cloaks of royalty. Weasel does have the same cachet, although it is the same animal, diferent season. "Summer Ermine" is its name in the world of fur. Miner's lettuce VS purslane; hmmmmm, no big stretch.