One of the most underestimated plants of the natural world: stinging nettle. Nutritionally, nettle is one of nature’s powerhouses. Nettle is very high in calcium, chromium, magnesium, and zinc, and high in cobalt, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, protein, riboflavin, selenium, silicon, thiamine, vitamin A, and vitamin C. What is more, nettle fibre craft was alive in artisan cultures around the world, as recent studies show that that they were a valued resource for spinning silky or sturdy fabrics. When springtime returns, nettles become a host for habitating butterflies, encouraging pollination, and therefore long to be desired by the wider circles of modern foragers.
The nettle is a highly successful plant found all over the temperate areas of the world. It spreads by means of seeds and underground rhizomes that creep around just under the surface of the soil. It prefers rich soils and therefore does well around human settlements, benefiting from the waste we produce, often indicating where old settlements have long since disappeared from the countryside.
The nettles are best at the tips and in early spring they are supercharged with all good things. As with all wild food, try to collect away from roads and areas of possible man-made poisons and ground contamination. Nettles can be regarded as a leaf vegetable, once the sting has been neutralised.
Feeling inspired? Here is a few nettle recipes to follow:
Nettle Crisps – crunchy and healthy alternative for supermarket crisps
Wild Garlic & Nettle Creamy Soup – dense in nutrients and rich in flavour
Nettle Ravioli – discover new filling for your ravioli
What Nettles Go With
Nettles must be blanched to remove the sting, so any raw salads are out of the window! Instead, look for recipes which might include cooked spinach leaves – quiches, curries, soups and fish pies, and use nettle as a whimsy substitute.
The leaves have such rich green flavours, they aren’t reliant on other ingredients. Having said that, a nettle pesto is reliant on the addition of pine nuts or walnuts, a nettle-based pasta sauce benefits from a little garlic, nettle soup is improved by salty vegetable stock.
We would love to see your nettle creations! Share the delight with us on our social media pages!