Spinach has a relatively similar texture and flavour, though it does not dry the same way, nor does it add the same slight peppery flavour to foods. The leaves have a characteristic heart shape to them with a small stem attaching the cleft or top of the heart to the central stem. Fortunately, cooking nettles is very simple and completely eradicates their stinging capabilities. Those of us living in the Pacific Northwest (and many other regions around the world) are fortunate to be gifted every spring with an abundance of Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica). In addition to making the leaves unpleasantly coarse, cystoliths can cause urinary tract irritation when ingested. Stinging nettles (Urtica spp.) Call us at 425-248-0253 or send an email anytime. Some people make a spit poultice out of Common (Broad-Leaf) or Lance-Leaf Plantain. Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) Smaller, younger leaves are more heart-shaped. Hi Alexis. That being said, there is some variation within the wild populations around the world. Don't worry too much though - they're easy to handle with gloves on, and once cooked or fully dried, however, they become entirely harmless (and very healthy!). Once the plant reaches this level of maturity, it begins building up deposits of tiny particles of calcium carbonate (lime) called cystoliths. Stinging nettle can be eaten on its own or as an ingredient in foods. I cut some of my nettles back to move them a few weeks ago. Take care when picking nettles as the sting is painful. The stinging power of nettles is instantly dismantled when they’re cooked (and by The nettles should be softer and a deeper green colour, but not falling apart. ... "common nettles" or "stinging nettles." Nettles can also be dried in a dehydrator. It is possible to pick nettles without hurting yourself, but expect to … We were voted BEST NATURE CAMP and BEST FAMILY CAMP of 2019 by Parent Map, the region's premier family resource, in their Golden Teddy award survey. Leave damaged plants and consider the critters. It's worth noting that these will be picked form the wild as well, since nettles are not generally cultivated in any meaningful way. Some believe that at this stage the nettles form cystoliths or calcium concretions (aka bladder stones) that are bad for the urinary tract. completely before new leaves emerge from the underground rhizomes or they may remain to oversee the beginning of the next generation of foliage. Nettles can also be added directly to soups and stews, or even baked. Pick the young leaves from the tips. have fine hairs on the leaves and stems that contain irritating chemicals, which are released when the plant comes in contact with the skin. Cooked stinging nettles are an extremely healthy green vegetable. It is recommended that you wear gloves and long sleeves when harvesting stinging nettle. A leafy green member of the nettle family (Urticaceae). or … Use nettles as a tea wash or dock (Rumex spp.) If you are picking invasive weedy species, harvest freely, but ensure that you remove any seeds or cuttings that might regrow or spread. Harvest only as much as you will use and process it as soon as possible (don’t waste it). Required fields are marked *. For me, it’s the first real sign that spring is around the corner. Young nettles emerging. These hairs are hollow and when they get under your skin, the tips break off and allow the formic acid (among other things) under your skin. Getting stung is a bit of a bummer but not a very big deal. Make sure that you are using safe practices, avoid any areas that may be contaminated by pesticides or other chemicals, and always ensure that you are 100% positive about the identity of the plant you’re picking. rheumatoid arthritis) across a variety of cultures. Stinging nettles are no different. Commonly used in European soups and traditional/rustic dishes. Avoid mushy or overly wilted looking leaves. Wear gloves to protect your hands from the stinging hairs or you will likely regret it! Picking Nettles Tuesday, June 09, 2015. Join Agent Sophie in the garden as she forages for stinging nettles, and shows how this delicious wild food can be used in the kitchen. As a general rule, only the youngest shoots and most tender stinging nettle leaves are eaten. You may also combine Stinging nettle with other herbs to make iron tonics and capsules including burdock root, yellow dock, sarsaparilla, dandelion and red clover. Parts of this post were first published in May 2012, with additional text and photos added. Slowly add olive oil until it reaches your desired consistency. You can also hang them to dry, use a dehydrator or be creative with your method. There is no GM or gene-edited stinging nettle in the human food supply. Nettles can also be rendered sting-free by drying, though this is more commonly done when preparing nettles for teas and traditional herbal remedies. I have never tasted a cooked green – either wild or domestic – that I like better. All you to do is cut the portion you need, hover your fingers above and below the leaf, then pinch it. Stinging nettles have been dried and used as tea for a long time, and can also be ground to powder in a blender after drying to be used as a coloring/seasoning. Voila, no sting, because you know the hairs don’t point straight out, they angle down the leaf. The key is that the hairs on the leaves all aim from the cleft or top of the leaf to the point or bottom of the leaf. But you can harvest the topmost leaves into the summer. The only time we can hang anything outside to dry is during relatively low humidity / warm / windy days, and never after the dew sets / overnight. Others crush and apply Yellow Dock leaves or rub the welt/sting with the spores on the under side of Sword Fern leaves. She has a B.S. Place a large non-stick frying pan on a medium heat with 1 knob of butter, strip in the marjoram and stir in the leeks. Cut the plants off at ground level with pruning shears. When you’re ready for them, just pull them out, rinse if you wish and go for it! Be sure to where gloves when picking nettles and when handling them. Kim McKillip Chisholm is co-owner of Wolf Camp & School of Natural Science. If you're picking your own nettles, be certain that they are growing in a safe (pesticide-free) area, and that you are 100% certain of their identity. Allow the biggest and best plants to remain so they can continue to propagate the healthiest population. Generally, only the youngest shoots and leaves are eaten. Yes, stinging nettles sting you, and it’s not that comfortable (especially if your legs are covered with the stings). Good job! Leave Grandmother. By late spring, the nettles are 3 to 6+ feet high, the largest leaves are upwards of 7 inches long and they are flowering lovely whitish/greenish inflorescences or clusters. Almost always cooked, as raw nettles can deliver a painful sting. It's right there in the name after all. Alternately, I don’t want to offer advice that could do harm. I didn’t get stung once while picking. Cooked stinging nettles are an extremely healthy green vegetable. It's easy to find videos online of outdoor experts eating nettles raw. If you would like to use nettles for food or tea, then harvest them before they flower. The name is appropriate - if handled improperly, they can deliver a moderately painful sting that can linger for hours or even days. Always take proper precautions when foraging for wild foods. It must be done in such a way as to break the hollow hairs or else they can sting you in the mouth. Largely foraged from the wild; sometimes sold by wild food stands at Farmer’s Markets (see “Need More Details?” below for identification help). For food and medicine, harvest in the spring BEFORE they “flower” unless it’s a survival situation, because once they flower they develop a cystolith that’s damaging to the liver and kidneys. We were also selected by the Better Business Bureau as a "2019 BBB Torch Awards for Ethics" finalist! Keep the gloves on while you’re preparing the nettles as well. Online recipes abound. The other day someone told me they found stinging nettle and I could barely contain my excitement. When picking stinging nettles in the wild, always wear a thick pair of gloves so you do not get stung. Nettles, as a wild food, have not been cultivated to produce varieties. I’ll be doing a post on this in the fall (when I harvest for fiber), so watch for that. Avoid brown, mottled, or otherwise discolored leaves. Stinging nettle; the name itself carries an ominous warning to those who might come in contact with it. True to its name, stinging nettle imparts a painful sting through tiny hairs on the underside of its leaves and on its stems. The leaves and stem are vibrant green and pubescent (hairy), sometimes with a hint of purple. USE - Unless you're a masochist, you don't really want to eat raw nettle leaves as-is. So, look around and you can usually find some that are harvestable where others are not. Pick the smaller nettle plants, 1-3 feet in height, as the larger plants are not as tender. CAUTION: Stinging nettles can sting! I’ve not personally found scientific evidence that nettles are harmful after flowering and I don’t want to spread mistruths. It’s as simple as that. Make sure not to dry them to the point where they lose their green color and turn brown or black. Fortunately, the stinging effect is not usually bad. Do you need it? Note that the tiny spine-like hairs visible are fairly soft, and incapable of delivering any type of sting at this point. Short Term: Refrigerate in a breathable plastic bag for 3-5 daysLong Term: Blanch for 1 minute, then rinse, drain, and freeze. As the nettle grows, the strongly serrate/toothed margins or edges of the leaves become more evident. Some people recommend blanching the nettles (adding them to boiling water, plunging into ice water, then using). stinging nettles: harvesting, eating, cooking stinging nettles in a nutshell. You can find many online sources that say nettles at that stage are bad for the kidneys. Stinging nettles grow practically everywhere: even in cities, it is often possible to find the plant growing in parks or gardens as a weed. As a wild food, nettles aren’t cultivated in different varieties. Cooked stinging nettles. Wash them with gloves on and stick them into boiling water immediately, and cook like spinach. Or, come to one of our plant classes, workshops, camps or expeditions where we’ll demonstrate then invite you to give it a try. Harvest for eating before they are knee … They can often be found at the edges of wild areas (often a little too easily!). I put mine in a paper bag or cardboard box in front of my furnace and let the warm, blowing air do the job. We look forward to your participation in nature! When a forest is disturbed by fire the first plants that grow in the burnt, broken underbrush are nettles. 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