Wash them with gloves on and stick them into boiling water immediately, and cook like spinach. Stingingnettle is one of the earliest green plants to emerge each spring in many cold climates and is worth the hard work of finding them, picking them without getting a … or … Hydrocortisone or antihistamines can provide some relief, but it's common for some pain to linger from a substantial sting (in my own personal experience, numbness can persist for more than 24 hours). Join Agent Sophie in the garden as she forages for stinging nettles, and shows how this delicious wild food can be used in the kitchen. Protect the arms, too, with a thick shirt. Nettles can also be added directly to soups and stews, or even baked. My favorite ways to eat nettles are:  a simple saute, steamed on top of sauteed veggies or a raw pesto. Dried nettles are also stingless, so if you have a dehydrator you can go that route too. Voila, no sting, because you know the hairs don’t point straight out, they angle down the leaf. There are a number of species of moth and butterfly larvae that feed on nettles. The optimum time to pick stinging nettle is just before blossoms develop in spring and early summer. There's some confusion and disagreement about the naming and validity of the various subspecies (or species), but for culinary purposes it's worth pointing out that all varieties have stinging hairs with the exception of the European 'fen nettle' (Urtica dioica galeopsifolia, sometimes called U. d. pubescens). As a wild food, nettles aren’t cultivated in different varieties. You’ll find that different remedies work for different people, so you may have to try a few to find what works for you. USE - Unless you're a masochist, you don't really want to eat raw nettle leaves as-is. And, it’s certainly not enough of a negative to keep me from harvesting and enjoying these amazing plants. Our Virtual Outdoor Camps were featured in the New York Times on July 6, 2020 and check out how we exceeded standards for in-person summer camp protocols during the pandemic era. She has a B.S. One of my favourite ways is to make a Stinging Nettle Gnocchi (courtesy of Antonio Carluccio!) If you run your finger from the pointy end up toward the cleft and central stem, chances are excellent you will get stung. Almost always cooked, as raw nettles can deliver a painful sting. The distinctive but mild flavour profile works best with lighter proteins like chicken, fish, and beans. When you cook (or thoroughly dry) nettles the volatile compounds are destroyed or inactivated, and the sting disappears completely. By late spring, the nettles are 3 to 6+ feet high, the largest leaves are upwards of 7 inches long and they are flowering lovely whitish/greenish inflorescences or clusters. Consider working with a respected herbalist or naturopathic physician in your area – someone who uses plants as medicine on a regular basis and knows from experience what they will and will not do. Pan frying, stir-frying, sauteing, and similar stove-top methods will all work well. *** For educational purposes only. That’s literally a lot to take in, but the basic idea is that the stinging nettle is easy to notice and difficult to forget. 1/4 to 1/2 cup). As a general rule, it's best to avoid leaves from plants that have begun to flower or set seed. Make sure that you are using safe practices, avoid any areas that may be contaminated by pesticides or other chemicals, and always ensure that you are 100% positive about the identity of the plant you’re picking. Instead, when these hairs are agitated, their fragile ends snaps off, converting each hair into a tiny hypodermic needle. The only time we can hang anything outside to dry is during relatively low humidity / warm / windy days, and never after the dew sets / overnight. escarole) can make an acceptable alternative, though the bitterness is, unsurprisingly, more prominent. Once wilted they can no longer sting you. Pick the smaller nettle plants, 1-3 feet in height, as the larger plants are not as tender. Choose the youngest nettle plants that emerge early in spring, or the very new young leaves from small young bushes. I’ve found this works like a charm with most damp mud. Other plants can be used to protect the hands while picking nettles. Any nettles picked from a clean, uncontaminated area can be considered effectively organic. If you’ve forgotten your scissors, you can harvest leaf by leaf (but that takes a long time). At this point in its life-cycle, the nettle plant begins producing deposits of calcium carbonate (lime) called cystoliths. Picking Stinging Nettles If you consider stinging nettles to be similar to spinach you’ll have just uncovered 100’s of recipes and ways to use the nettles. rheumatoid arthritis) across a variety of cultures. Thanks for all the info! Note that the tiny spine-like hairs visible are fairly soft, and incapable of delivering any type of sting at this point. But they are easy enough to pick with gloves and pants and a long sleeve shirt on. I cut some of my nettles back to move them a few weeks ago. For fiber, it might work but we haven’t tried, but again the fibers probably degraded so probably not worth it. Not for food and the nettles probably rotted before they froze. However, there are varying (but similar) species around the world, including some stingless varieties. Nettles aren't dangerous unless you have a serious allergy (which is rare), but their stings can be quite painful. I am happy this spring to see a bunch of nettle volunteers in the garden. The plant itself emerges from the ground very early in the spring and grows quickly. Best to harvest for fiber in summer and early fall. Kale is likewise fairly similar in texture, and dried kale works quite well in place of dried nettles. Stinging Nettle: Harvesting, Processing and Recipes, (see above) before harvesting any plant material. Nettles are renowned for their stinging … For fiber, harvest the entire stem. Nettles can deliver a painful sting and produce nasty, blistering rashes. – Capable of inflicting a fairly painful sting– The volatile chemical cocktail that causes the sting is entirely inactivated by cooking. Carefully harvest the fresh tender tops of stinging nettle plants. Stinging nettle can be eaten on its own or as an ingredient in foods. Her passions include sharing her love of nature with others, wild edibles and herbal medicine, wilderness preparedness, bird identification and behavior and, of course, chickens! Generally, only the youngest shoots and leaves are eaten. However, the hairs are still there and can be irritating to the skin or give you a sliver if you’re not careful. It is ok to harvest a plant if there are 20 others available to maintain the population. When do I harvest Stinging Nettle? In the meantime, order dried nettle leaf for medicinal/tonic use from Mountain Rose Herbs or other trusted supplier. or mullein. There isn't much in the way of scientific consensus about the efficacy of this method of treatment. For training with Kim on wild edible and medicinal plant topics, check out: For In-Depth Learning, Join Our Weekly Online Classes: Can you harvest nettles that dried and have frozen through the winter? Immediate relief! Like so many herbaceous greens, stinging nettles have a flavour that's distinctive enough to make it difficult to replace, but familiar enough to make relatively close substitutions possible. 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