"Lord, I confess too when I dine
The pulse is thine
And all those other bits that be
There placed by Thee.
The worts, the purselain, and the mess
Of Water Cress."


Purslane, which we so seldom use now even in salads, was formerly recommended for a vast number of diseases, including teeth set on edge, "flashings by lightening or planets, and for burning of gunpowder!" Purslanes like a light, rich soil, and as they are tender annuals, they must be sown either on a hot-bed or in the open ground in May. They should not be transplanted.

The leaves are generally ready to be gathered six weeks after planting the seeds. Green purslane is hardier than golden purslane.


This for a dainty dish, with many served first at the table in the winter time, preserved after this manner, the greatest stemmes and leaves of the Purslane without rootes were gathered and these wyth water thoroughly cleansed from the fyne sands, hanging on and the filthe and corrupt leaves, if any such were, clean purged away, and these so long they dryed until they were somewhat withered. Then were they infused in verjuice made of soure grapes strewed thicke over wyth green fennell bestowed in an earthen pot glasd within or for the lacke of it in a sweete vessel of woode, after this the whole sprinkled well over wyth salte, laying green fennell again over the salte, and sundry courses of Purslane, with salt and fennell bestowed to the filling up of the pot and over the upper bed of the Purslane againe a thicke course of greene fennell strewed, whiche settled the whole mixture downe into the pot. This being done, the verjuice was poured upon in such order so full that the same reached uppe to the brimme or lippe of the vessell. The same pickle or sauce close covered with a lid was set up again in a dry place to be preserved far from the beames of the Sun coming; when they served it at the table they cleansed it with sweet wine, pouring sweet oyle on the purslane. They set it as a first dish on the table to procure an appetite afore the guests sette downe to meate.

Henry Dethicke, The Gardener's Labyrinth.


Lay the stalks in an earthen pan; then cover them with Beer Vinegar and water, keeping them down with a competent weight to imbibe three days. Being taken out put them into a pot with as much white-wine vinegar as will cover them again and close the Lid with paste (made with flour and water) to keep in the steam; then set them on the Fire for three or four hours, often shaking and stirring them. Then open the Cover and turn, and remove those stalks which be at the Bottom to the Top and boil them as before till they are all of a colour. When all is cold pot them with fresh white-wine vinegar, and so you may preserve them the whole year round.

John Evelyn, Acetaria, 1699.


Put your Purslane stalks into as much wine as water, with a little salt. Then boil it, put it into a Pot, and pour in as much white-wine vinegar as will cover it; if you please you may add sugar to your white wine.

From The Receipt Book of John Nott, Cook to the Duke of Bolton, 1723.


Take it when it is young, and pick it very well, and wash it, and swing it, and then lay it upon a Plate garnished with the slices of Lemon, or with all sorts of herbs at your own discretion.



Take of the newest Purslan, pick and wash it very well, swing it out, and lay it in the round of the Plate, and Lettice round about it, garnish the brims with Charvile and Flowers hashed together of divers colours, very small.

A Perfect School of Instructions for the Officers of the Month, by Giles Rose, one of the Master Cooks to Charles II, 1682.


When your Purslane is young, you need only cut the spriggs off, but keep their whole length, boil them in a small kettle, with some Pease-soup and Onion Juice, both of the same quantity, when your Purselane is boiled enough, soak some crusts in some Broth; when soaked, dish it, garnish it with the said Purslane, let the Broth be relishing, pour it over, and serve it up hot.

The Modern Cook to Vincent La Chapelle, Cook to the Prince of Orange, 1744.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License