Andy’s Pickled Verdolagas (Purslane)

From Jessica Prentice’s Seven Stars of Summer 2016

Andy Renard, Three Stone Hearth’s self-dubbed French Pickler, recently began culturing purslane to sell at our shop.

AndyExtAndy’s father’s family is from Guadalupe in the French West Indies where purslane is called poupier. As a child growing up in Missouri, Andy liked finding this mucilaginous vegetable (think nopales and okra) while weeding the garden with his mother. They would prepare it for the evening’s supper by lightly blanching it, then cooling and tossing in vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. When Andy moved to California, he discovered this childhood favorite at the farmers’ markets, although here it was called purslane. His pickled purslane was a love-at-first-bite experience for me. The meaty leaves hold up to brine with their pleasant saltiness and acidity.

Andy and the others in Three Stone Hearth’s “fermentation and preservation circle” have come up with cultured versions of purslane to reflect many parts of the world where this plant is enjoyed. This pickeled verdolagas (purslane’s Spanish name) features Southwestern spices.

—JP

two 2-quart Mason jars
6 tablespoons Celtic sea salt
2 quarts non-chlorinated water
½ pound purslane
1 bunch scallions, sliced into ¼-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 teaspoons coriander seed, toasted
2 teaspoons cumin seed, toasted
5 or 6 sprigs fresh oregano
¼–½ teaspoon red chile flakes (to taste), or, when in season, slices of fresh red peppers such as New Mexico chile

Wash the jars in hot soapy water, rinse, and air dry.

In one jar, mix the salt and non-chlorinated water to make the brine. Cover and shake until salt is dissolved.

Pack the purslane, scallions, garlic, spices, and herbs into the other jar, breaking up the purslane as necessary to make it fit into jar.

Pour prepared brine over the purslane, covering vegetables and spices, and filling up the jar to the neck. (You can weigh the vegetables down with a well-washed stone.) Screw on the lid, and if you have an airlock lid, use it. If not, every day or two you’ll need to loosen the lid slightly to “burp” the jar, releasing the gases that accumulate during the process of fermentation.

Allow to culture 7 to 10 days at room temperature. Fermentation time will vary depending on ambient temperature. Taste the purslane occasionally to see if you are happy with the flavor.

After the pickle is done, you can eat the purslane right away or store the jar in the refrigerator. Use a clean fork or tongs to lift the purslane out of the brine.

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