Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Stinging Nettle

This is one I have known about for years, but hesitated to try.   But finally this year, I screwed up my courage and got a bunch to cook.  Wish I had done this years ago, it is going to be one of my favorite wild greens.

Stinging Nettle is a very common weed, you'll recognize it right away.  It is a perennial, growing in waste places, at the edge of fields, and even in some brave people's gardens.  It is very nutritious, high in vitamin C, and Iron.  It is a good substitute for spinach in any recipe that uses cooked spinach, and tastes much like spinach, but you don't have to buy it or grow it.  Once you know what it looks like, you'll see it everywhere, it is really common.

For positive ID, if you have ever walked through a patch of this bare legged, you KNOW what it looks like.  The small hairs up and down the stalks and under the leaves have Formic Acid in them which is what stings when injected into your skin.  But a simple pair of jeans, and gloves to do the harvesting will prevent this.  Cooking disables the formic acid.  Harvest the leaves, and tender tops not very far down the stalk which is woody.  It doesn't take very long to get enough for a good meal.  The old cemetery near our house is surrounded with acres of Nettles in amongst the Day Lily which by the way are also edible.  More on them later.  Nettles are available, and edible until they bloom.

You can serve the Nettles any of many different ways.  Just as a cooked green, maybe with a little vinegar or hot sauce.

Or you can make a soup.  Sautee the Nettle in butter until wilted, then add milk, salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes.  A little onion and/ or garlic would be a nice addition.  Then puree in a blender, and serve warm.

Or you can make a Nettle Fritata which is kind of a crustless quiche.  Fritata is an all purpose dish that you can put anything in, and I am going to try a Nettle Fritata in the next few days.  I'll post a photo and recipe when I make it.

It is amazing the bounty that is out there free for us all when we just look around!  As always, be careful of where you harvest your wild food.  Many people use pesticides, and it may not be obvious.  Also, roadsides are not appropriate.  Cities, counties, and states also spray, and automobile fumes carry many chemicals which are absorbed by the roadside plants.  I know our own yard is safe, and also the big old cemetery nearby where they only mow.

No comments:

Post a Comment