Stinging Nettles

The incredible – often maligned Stinging Nettle.

Stinging Nettles

Stinging Nettles

Most people hate the stinging nettle. You touch it or even brush against it and it bites you. This bite can be quite irritating. Small hair on the leaves and stems will penetrate your skin, when touched, and injects a droplet of formic acid, which causes the pain and rash that follows. You need to wear cloves when picking them.

This is an easy plant to identify. If you're in doubt, just touch it and you get your confirmation.

Yet this weed can be a very tasty and nutritious addition to your organic menu.

Stinging nettles, when cooked, loose all their stinging power. They taste similar to spinach and are rich in calcium, iron, manganese, potassium and vitamins A and C.

You only use the young shoots that appear in early spring. The leaves become tougher as the plant begins to bloom. If you keep picking them, new shoots will come up and you can prolong your harvest.

Stinging nettles can be steamed or boiled for 1 to 2 minutes and served with salt and pepper and some butter. I like them creamed. Just follow any recipe for creamed spinach and replace the spinach with nettles.

 They make an outstanding soup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Stinging nettles with stems removed
  • 2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • I onion diced
  • ¼ cup rice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup half and half cream.

 Directions:

  • Boil the nettles, with the salt added, for 1 to 2 minutes
  • Rinse in cold water and chop coarsely
  • Fry the onions in the olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes
  • Stir in the chicken stock, rice and nettles
  • Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until the rice is soft, about 15 minutes
  • Puree the soup in a blender, season to taste
  • Add the cream and serve.

I think, you will really enjoy this soup.

Stinging nettle leaves can also be dried or blanched and frozen for later use.

Get field guides for this and other edible, wild plants, here.

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