Wild Food Foraging - Cultivating Skills &
Confidence through Inspiring Forays in Nature

I’m in Love with Nettles!

How to remember & appreciate the mundane (and why we’re running ‘Nettle Days’).

In life & relationships it is all too easy to take for granted those that are close to us, to over-look our loved one’s qualities that we once fell in love with. Too easy to forget that they are amazing, loveable, admirable, desirable, shifting our focus instead onto their negative qualities & the things we’d like to change.

I feel it is the same with Nettles (Urtica dioica). We’ve got so used to seeing them – almost everyone knows what a nettle looks & feels like – that all we have left to say to them is rude & dismissing. Our modern culture tells us that foreign super foods are bigger & better, though Nettles are just as good & free! It’s time we rekindled our love for this plant – a local love affair because…

    

…nettles have always been there for us. A true native, growing & thriving through our British seasons, arriving, without fail, each spring – vibrant, potent & bursting with nutrition.

Oooh, but the sting! I hear you cry…

Oooh, but their always growing in the wrong place & a real pain to get rid of.

Well, those so-called negative qualities also have a flip side. Nettles sting to protect themselves – yes, they’re that valuable that they developed a protective mechanism. Their sting even contains the same compound as a bee sting – formic acid. The sting of the nettle has also been used to help relieve severe rheumatic pains & to help improve blood circulation (Culperer Herbal). As spring arrives the sting is even more virulent (I can still feel my fingers pulsating from my yesterday’s foraging!).

The ability of the humble stinging nettle to grow in abundance was of great use to our ancestors & is great for us too. Those long roots that are so difficult to dig up enable nettles to draw up the rich nutrition deep in the soil. Exuding with vitamin B2, C, E, K, iron, protein, magnesium, calcium, beta-carotene as well as other minerals. They’ve been used to treat anemia, rheumatism, arthritis & kidney disorders to name a few. All this makes nettles a fantastic food, hair tonic & herbal tea.

 

The thick, hardy stems contain strong fibres that have been used to make string & rope as well as practical & beautiful clothing. My favourite are delicate nettle shawls, see www.wildweaves.co.uk.

So to conclude, why would we want to get rid of this old love, for a new more exciting one? Why not re-ignite or even start your love for nettles; cherish their qualities, put on your best (nettle) clothes, eat (nettle soup), drink (nettle beer) & be merry! Nettles are our own, native super food. Available in abundance, on our doorstep, in hedgerows, fields & amongst the plants we so lovingly cultivate. Life is too short to chase the greener grass elsewhere, especially when the grass here is so rich with nettles!

Making Fresh Nettle String      

Finally, are they tasty? Are they ever! Use like spinach, they’re great in lasagne, curry, soup, risotto, in falafel, gnoochi & make a great base for pesto (blanch the leaves first).

Wishing you a wonderful love affair… X

4 comments:

  1. Fab post Rachel, have always been curious about nettles but will def give them a try now!

    Comment by Wendy — 20 March 2012 8:23 pm

  2. Great! They really are worth knowing, you may want to start with small amounts in a soup or any savoury dish if you want to be cautious, I’ll be foraging some for lunch today to have in home-made chicken soup. Enjoy

    Comment by Rachel — 21 March 2012 9:59 am

  3. Hello Rachel –
    I really enjoyed your website. I am also in love with nettles .. totally. Have just made the most sublime ice-cream ever with them. : Nettle and crystallised ginger! It brings out all the subtle and unusual fragrancy of the plant. The texture and colour are also superb!
    Best wishes; happy foraging – Lucia

    Comment by Lucia Stuart — 10 May 2012 8:32 am

  4. Great! Yes, they are such a brilliant & versatile plant. Enjoy X

    Comment by Rachel — 10 May 2012 10:38 am

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