I love the month of March. I love the dramatic intensity of the weather this time of year brings. The sudden rain followed by the sudden break of sunshine; the cleansing wild winds followed by stillness; the noticeable lengthening of daylight past Equinox; the cheerful twittering of birds; lambs and calves joyfully hopping along the newly green fields where I live, and of course the nettles.
Every part of the nettle plant is edible: root, leaf, stalk, and seed.
Spring nettles are nutritionally dense.
Growing towards the sun, drinking in the rich nutrient that is sunlight, metabolized in the plant, offering us who eat it a broad spectrum of every mineral and vitamin one would ever need. In particular the plant is rich in iron, calcium, vitamin A, and trace minerals. Nettle is an herb that powerfully supports the kidney’s and adrenals, but really improves function for every organ and gland in the body, called an alterative. As it’s an effective (yet gentle) diuretic, be careful to not drink too much close to bedtime, or else you’ll be up several times to take a trip to the bathroom.
In addition to the phenomenal benefits to the kidney’s & adrenals, nettle promotes milk production for nursing females, human and animal. It’s used in the treatment of eczema, hives, allergies, hayfever, tonifies the gallbladder, liver, soothes intestinal ulcers, asthma, inflammatory conditions of any nature, and balances blood sugar levels.
For deep nourishment, drink 2 cups of fresh nettle tea every day. Many comment on a noticeable improvement to the quality and shine of skin, hair, eyes and general energy level.
Fresh nettle can be used in cooking just about anywhere you’d otherwise use spinach. Yes, that means spanokopita, lasagna, stirfry’s, soup and steam like any other green vegetable! The little “stinging” hairs are eliminated once cooked. You can also make pesto with it – fresh not steamed or cooked!! – then freeze it to enjoy all winter! When its put into a blender, the stinging hairs vanish.
One of my all-time favourite ways to use nettle is as a gomasio (Japanese seasoning) of equal parts dried nettle leaf, dulse flakes, and sesame seeds. Here’s a photo of the one I have in my kitchen
Just sprinkle on veggies, rice, etc. It’s really delicious!
The easiest way to prepare nettle is to simply drink it as a medicinal infusion. That is a strong tea.
NETTLE HARVEST FOR INFUSION
1. With sharp kitchen scissors, snip several inches of nettle tops into a basket or brown paper bag. You may want to wear gloves, as the nettles do sting! This is due to formic acid.
Do not take the entire plant unless there are plenty left behind. This is out of respect to the natural world and plant communities.
When you snip portions of a plant, ensure you’ve left behind the remaining stalk with green leaves which will allow the plant to continue to be nourished by the sun, and continue to grow.
2. When I bring home my nettle harvest, I lay out large sheets of newspaper, or large flat drying baskets, and snip the nettle (stalks and leaves) in small pieces on to the paper/baskets. I spread them out so there’s plenty of room for air to circulate. I do this in a dry room avoiding direct sunlight on the plant material. I shake them daily, and when they are nice and dry and crispy, they are ready to put into a jar, and are stored in my kitchen cupboard. This allows for delicious, mineral rich tea year round! Don’t forget to label your medicine with the full name, date, and where you harvested.
Simply boil some water in a kettle, and pour 2 cups of that water over a good handful of fresh or dried nettles. Cover. Steep for at least 20 minutes and enjoy!
P.S. your compost will love the exhausted nettles after you’ve used them for tea. And any left over liquid your house plants will love to drink.