Stinging nettles are an excellent food source.
It’s a wild plant that most people walk past regularly without thinking about picking or consuming.
For centuries, nettle has been a staple ingredient for ancient cultures.
It’s one of the most nutritional wild plants available, but it needs to be cooked or dried to neutralize the sting.
Stinging nettles can be used in many food and drink recipes. Nettle tea for example is a soothing beverage that can be enjoyed warm or chilled. It has many health benefits and it’s easy to make
They have a mild earthy flavor similar to spinach but with a slight tang and peppery hint to it.
Stinging nettle is a common weed. It grows wild in gardens, parks, paddocks, forest edges and around old farmsteads with well fertilized dirt. The stems and leaves of stinging nettle contain hairs that burn or irritate your skin when brushed against.
If you touch their leaves they will sting you. This is enough to put most people off picking them. As long as you avoid touching the plant with your bare skin, use gardening gloves and scissors to cut the stalks and put the nettles straight into a bucket or bag you won’t have a problem.
The young leaves near the top of the plant are best to cut and prepare and I prefer to use spring or early summer plants. You can use the bigger, broader leaves too but they might have more bitterness
To gather wild greens like stinging nettles and adding it to your diet can be very beneficial. You can be sure the nettles are organic and nutritious
To make tea you need to dry the stinging nettles first.
Simply tie all the stems together and hang upside down to dry in a warm area with airflow until the leaves are completely dry.
When the leaves contain no more moisture, pick them off the stems and store in an air tight container.
Stinging nettle has many health benefits so it’s worth making the effort. Especially if you have them growing wild in your garden
Making tea out of wild stinging nettles is a good way to get all the health benefits from the plant
Stinging nettle tea is most often used to treat urinary tract infections, but is also known to reduce inflammation, treat high blood pressure and being a natural treatment for hay fever.
Pour 250ml hot water over two teaspoons of dried nettle leaves.
Allow the tea to brew for about ten minutes.
When nettles are brewed into a tea it can have a mild bitter taste. You can add other herbs like peppermint or lemon balm to make it more palatable.
The brewed nettle tea can be chilled overnight and enjoyed the next day over ice as an iced tea.
Nettles can also be made into delicious soups, tarts or sauces.
Nettles are high in vitamins, especially high in vitamin C, and also contain calcium, iron, magnesium, all essential amino acids and more.
Stinging nettles should be cooked for 2-3 minutes in boiling water and refreshed in cold water. After that you can touch them and consume them safely.
Pick the nettle leaves from the stalks and discard the stalks.
Once blanched the stinging nettles can be frozen if you wish.
Use the blanched stinging nettle leaves like you would use spinach. Add it to soups, pasta dishes, pesto and more.
Going outside to gather food is awesome! Wild, nutritious, organic ingredients available for anyone to pick and prepare a meal or soothing drink with.
It’s the most natural, healthy and sustainable way to get ingredients and prepare food.
Sustainable living includes what and how we eat. There are several different options when it comes to sourcing our food ingredients and steps we can take towards a more environmentally friendly way of cooking and preparing food recipes.
Gathering your own wild plants to consume is a step in the right direction.
Camilla Remneblad is the founder of My Self Sufficient Food Journey. Food is her passion. If she’s not in the kitchen cooking or baking you probably find her growing, catching or gathering food. She’s a qualified chef and has worked in many kitchens in different countries and places.