Friday, April 6, 2012

Foraging for Nettles


My good friend, Kristine Farley of Herbal Momma, offered to take me foraging for Stinging Nettles (Urtica diotica). She watched and waited and finally they were up!  A group of us went to a wooded and damp area, and gathered basketful's of the very healthy weed. I forgot my gloves, but was told if I hold the very outside of the leaf, then cut the stem with scissors, I wouldn't get stung (the stingers are on the underside of the leaves). Well, I got stung anyway, so I must not have been doing it right.

Stinging nettles need to be harvested while they are still young. Anything taller than your knee is too tall and the stalks will be woody and tough. It's better to cut them rather than pinch or pull them up, and always leave several leaves on the plant so it can continue growing.


We each gathered several baskets/bags/containers of nettles, then headed home to process them.

I guess most people use rubber gloves to handle nettles in the kitchen, but I used my favorite cooking hashi (very long chopsticks). Rinsed them well in cool water, then blanched the nettles for 30 seconds to remove the "sting".


A quick dip into ice water after blanching and I ended up with quite a batch of nettles. (Don't throw the water out!  Drink it or give it to your houseplants.) Blanched nettles can easily be kept in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to use them.


Even after all this, I was left with three bags of fresh nettles. One bag went to #1 Son who was actually excited to experiment in the kitchen with them.  I decided to leave the other two bags to dry, shaking them a couple of times each day. If you use this method of drying, be sure the bags are only half-full to ensure good air circulation.


I have used the nettles in several dishes so far (I will post about these soon), and I love the taste!  A lot like spinach, but earthier and fuller. Nettles have more protein than soybeans and more iron than spinach. Naturopathic physicians prescribe nettle tablets for those with allergies to help ease the symptoms and strengthen the immune system. Nettle tubers are said to assist with prostate issues. It's a terribly invasive weed, and hard to get rid of, but perhaps we should change the way we look at nettles and embrace it's goodness instead. Pin It

6 comments:

  1. Found your post on Punk Domestics. Good photos of the stinging nettles! We dry ours the same way, takes no energy and you just need time and paper bags. Then we powder them in a coffee grinder and add the powder to doughs like pasta or biscuit dough. Love the nettles!

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    1. Hi! I found your blog on Punk Domestics, too, and have been lurking for a couple of weeks now. Very inspiring! I am actually surprised how much I am enjoying these nettles, and will definitely need to get a coffee grinder as you suggest.

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  2. Hey, this is just what I need! Thanks for sharing. The nettles outside are getting tall really quickly. Now it's time to experiment.

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    1. I hope you enjoy them as much as I am--I'm putting them in everything!

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  3. Well, I'm a bit unsure about nettles, but willing to keep trying...
    included a link to this post, hope that's ok?

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    Replies
    1. Please try nettles--I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the taste. And thank you for the link!

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