Foraging for Stinging Nettles

Moshe helps gather nettles

I took this little guy out to the back yard last week. It was a beautiful sunny day, just barely warm enough to go swearshirt-free. Sweatshirt-free is never a guarantee here, even in the middle of summer. We enjoy it whenever it happens, though!

We brought gloves and a grocery bag. What were we after?

Stinging nettles

Weeds! Actually, stinging nettles. The woodsy area behind our house grew some big tall nettles last year and I kept knocking them over so they wouldn't fall into our yard. I vowed that next year I'd be ready and pick them young so we could try eating them.

I have never been so happy about weeding before! I picked the fresh young green nettles and Moshe held the bag for me. He loved helping!

Stinging nettles

The nettles were washed (in a strainer with the sprayer) and then put in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Afterwards, their sting was gone and we all eagerly sampled the cooked greens for our first time.

Delicious! I thought the taste was mild and reminded me of green beans. I chopped up the cooked nettles and added them to beef vegetable soup, and no one could even taste them.

I used stems as well as leaves, even though my research indicated the stems were too tough to eat. I imagine the freshest youngest stinging nettles are the most tender and tasty, and ours sure were!

I can't believe I grew up on a farm overrun with nettles and never ate any of them! (We did eat gobs of dandelions though.) I think foraged food is my favorite... just pick and enjoy!

Now, I'm brainstorming how I'm going to get the kids all down the road to the woodsy park and go nettle-hunting. There just aren't enough nettles in my own backyard!

Tip: Cook stinging nettles and use them as you would spinach. Quiche, lasagna, soups, and more are all wonderful made with stinging nettles!

Have you eaten stinging nettles? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts and more tips for gathering or using them! :)

Channah

Sweet Channah slept while we all played at the park last weekend. She sleeps best on/by/with me, which is part of my lack of blogging. (I am typing one-handed right now, but the slow pace is frustrating!) :)

Boys playing

We all soaked up the sunshine. Joshua played catch and t-ball with the older boys. There was bike riding, goat-feeding, and plenty of running around.

Comments

Enjoy!! I've not eaten any of those nettles in years...

Your baby girl is precious! Good to see you blogging even if one handed. :)

~Tanya - mama to 7 treasures. :)

We put some on pizza and we've also sauteed them in a little oyster sauce or soy sauce. Yum. You can dry them for tea as well. Remember not to harvest the older leaves though, they may contain crystalline structures that can harm your kidney.

My family all enjoys stinging nettles, too - such a tasty spring-time treat! We usually just steam them a bit and eat them plain that way. They don't last long! I'm really missing having access to this kind of greens since living in the city.

Oh, and the leaves in your picture look different than the variety that grows around here...our leaves are a little longer and narrower, I think. Interesting!

Hi Tammy

Sounds like your weather is pretty much like Scotland, where I live! There is a long history in Scotland of eating nettles - you can stew them, as you did. You can also make nettle tea, which is supposed to be very good for you, and I think they used to use it as a dye, as well.

What a beautiful family you have!

Smiles

KarlaG

The Lord bless thee and keep thee; the Lord make his face shine upon thee; and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. (Numbers 6:22-26)

I love nettles! We use them fresh and dried. They make excellent soups, pesto, smoothies, risottos and so on. One of my favourite things is to add dried nettles to bun (roll/biscuit.. Whatever you call them) dough or in the pancake mix. Oh and they also are great in omelets! Dried nettle also makes a good herbal tea. It's said to be good for the skin and kidneys.

I eat nettles every spring by cooking them with olive oil and garlic. Delicious.

I also sting myself with them. It is suppose to be healthy. I flog my legs and arms. It is suppose to be good for arthritis. I don't have any pain but I figure the stinging cannot hurt and might help in some way.

Barb

I enjoy collecting nettles and feeding them to my family but I think I over harvested my little supply a couple years ago because we didn't have any last year. My older two think they sting the back of their throat so they don't like them. They willing eat the lambs quarter, percelane, shepherd's purse and dandelions that I serve them so maybe they do.
Anyways I do them pretty much the same as you, where ever I might have used spinach or swiss chard.
One way my Kurdish neighbor taught me to do with the shepherd's purse and I have done with dandelions also is chop the greens small, cook until tender in olive oil then add several beaten eggs and a bit of salt and pepper. Once the eggs are cooked serve and enjoy. A simple quiche like dish!

I never knew stinging nettles were edible and safe to eat! The only encounter I have with them is when I accidentally touched some when I was younger...and needless to say I haven't gone near them since. This is definitely interesting and I will keep it in mind.

-Liz

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