Nettles are high in iron, potassium, manganese, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and a 25% of protein. Nettles are better than Popeye’s spinach in terms of nutrition. They have more protein and calcium. They have a lot more health benefits and share the taste.
It is not difficult to harvest them safely. Some rubber gloves would provide enough protection. You’ll also need a small bucket and a pair of kitchen scissors. Snip the stems right below the top four leaves of the nettle plants and let them fall into the pot or bucket.
If the nettles are picked early in the season (March-April), the stems can be eaten along with the leaves. Stinging nettles should not be harvested once in bloom.
My grandmother picked them with her bare hands and she said that after picking up 10-15 stinging nettles you won’t feel a thing.
Nettles have many medicinal uses. They can help with arthritis, anemia, hay fever, kidney problems, and more.
Nettles are a type of food that can be eaten during a famine, just like Bark Bread, Sego lily bulbs, or orache.
Firstly, you need to store them at room temperature for a day- if you follow this step, the nettles will not sting anymore.
So it will be safe to sort the nettles from other weeds or dirt.
Wash them very, very well! (I washed the nettles carefully 3 times.)
Boil the nettles for 5 minutes (5 minutes when the water is effectively boiling). When you remove them from the pot, you’ll notice that you are left with only a handful of nettles.
Don’t throw away all the water (it should be green by now). Or at least keep one glassful. You’ll need it in a few moments. But you can also keep some because it is very nutritious.
Now it’s time to blend the nettles and add one large tablespoon of flour.
Stir the nettles and add some of the water left from boiling the nettles (at least half a glass). Pour in a pot just a little bit of olive oil and add the nettles.
For at least 20 minutes, while the nettles are being cooked, peel and mince 7-10 cloves of garlic.
Grate a horseradish to “sprinkle” it over the nettles.
Now it is all ready! You may enjoy it without other ingredients, but I prefer it eating it with polenta, goat cheese and an egg.
To quote a chef:
“It seems like a vegetable cliché, but you can use your cooked nettles anywhere you’d use spinach. Try stinging nettles pasta, either as a filling, or right in the dough. Use stinging nettles in spanakopita or soup. Go for asparagus benedict on quinoa nettle cakes or use them to top a pizza like Chad Robertson does in Tartine Bread.”
Did You Know This?- Stinging Nettles Are Also Used For:
- Brewing beer. All you need is nettles, sugar, water, yeast, an orange, a lemon and cream of tartar.
- Making a liquid plant food. Mix nettles with water to make a Nitrogen-rich feed that plants will definitely love. Cut or crush the nettles into small pieces and stuff them into a large container. Weigh the nettles down with large bricks or rocks. This will stop them floating about when you add water. Add water to the container and leave for four weeks. Dilute the solution to make a liquid plant food suitable for direct application. Use roughly one part of concentrate to 10 parts of water.
- Making nettle tea. As well as being delicious, nettle tea is reputed to help combat several ailments, including eczema, asthma, hay fever and muscle aches. Just steep a few fresh tips in boiling water, removing them when the water goes slightly green, to avoid bitterness.
- To trap aphid. The fresh growth of spring attracts aphids in their thousands – sucking the life from plants, stunting their growth. Luckily, aphids love new nettle shoots, which has several benefits for the garden – it means you can use them as sacrificial plants, saving valuable ornamentals, and it may even stunt the nettle growth. The birds will get their treat, too.
- Nettles are the number one destination for ladybirds with eggs to lay. These eggs turn into ladybird larvae, which predate on garden pests, including aphids, whitefly and red spider mite.