That's right, stinging nettles are in season. So what do you do with stinging nettles you might ask? Good question. Well it just so happens that they are delicious and very healthy. Just go out in early spring and pick them when they are about 8 inches tall or less. Wear gloves because they can sting even when they're little. Take them home, chop them up and steam them for just a few minutes. This gets rid of the sting and turns them a brilliant green. Then what I like to do, and my kids too, is dip them in ranch dressing. And don't forget to drink the water from the pot. Nettle tea is also an excellent and very healthy beverage.
Before John and I got married our first joint purchase ever was a book called "Edible and Medicinal Plants of Minnesota and Wisconsin" by Mathew Alfs. This book has been well used for 7 years now and we will continue to use it. Here are a few things that Mathew Alfs has to say about the humble and under-rated stinging nettle:
"Nettles vitamins include: A, B1, B2, B5, C, D, E, K1, choline, and folic acid. Minerals include: iron, sodium, phosphorus, sulfur, calcium, silica, and potassium. Nettle is also extremely high in protein as well as possessing one of the highest chlorophyll contents known in edible North American wild plants."
He goes on for about three pages but you get the idea.
Another great way to use nettles is to add them to basil pesto to stretch the basil and also give it more nutrients. Since nettles have a very mild and neutral flavor they don't substantially change the flavor of the pesto.
I also like to make my own oil infusions and tinctures with the wild plants we harvest. I also plan on drying them for tea.
Harvesting wild edible and medicinal plants and learning about all the amazing benefits they have is one of my favorite things to do. It doesn't get any more organic than harvesting from the wild! Check back soon to see what we find on our next foraging outing!!
This day we harvested about two pounds of nettles and ate them all that evening. We made a cream soup with dumplings and nettles and it was very good. Most of the nettles were eaten by the kids though. They love to dip them in ranch dressing.
Nettles have a mild and rich flavor if that makes any sense. I think they taste like a combination of asparagus and artichoke. There's no bitterness or wild taste. They also don't get slimy like spinach does when you cook it. They maintain a little bounce if you don't cook them too long.
Get out and pick some nettles!!