As a child, growing up in the UK, we would refer to the Nettle plant (Urtica dioica) as “Stinging Nettles”. That was what we would recognize most about the plant; it’s ruthless, tingly and most irritating sting. Often it was unavoidable: I remember countless summer afternoons of football with friends that would be interrupted when the ball landed in a deep patch of nettles and someone would have to sacrifice the well-being of their legs and arms if we were to continue playing..
Despite our mothers occasional attempts to pour nettle soup down our throats, our childhood grudge against the plants made it near enough impossible to consider that eating them would bring us any benefit at all.. If only I knew then what I know now..
In Europe Nettles are in abundance and we really treat them as a weed, which is such a shame. In Australia and parts of the States, where Nettles are not native, they even import the plant into health food stores and supermarkets.
Why? Nettles contain a great number of amino acids, fatty substances and also contain very high levels of Iron as well as the vitamins A, D, C, B2 and K- one cup of nettles will give you up to three times your daily requirement of Vitamin A. Because of these compounds, the plant has anti-anemic and anti-diabetic properties and can also be used to combat diuretic issues and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The calcium content of stinging nettles is also significant: 1 cup provides 32.9 to 42.8 percent of the amount you require daily. Calcium promotes strong teeth and bones, and it may also lessen the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, preventing headaches, mood swings and bloating.
…In other words, why aren’t we eating more nettles?!
In future blog posts we will be looking at Nettle Soup and even attempting to make nettle beer, but before we get too adventurous, lets look at making the easy, delicious, free and nutritious Nettle Tea:
How to Make Nettle Tea:
What you will need:
1 pair of gloves
Large brown paper bag
Clean jar with lid for storage.
- Right now is perfect for harvesting wild nettles. Any time from early April to late May will give you the best crop, but you can push it either side of those dates for a decent harvest.
- Wearing gloves, cut the top part of each nettle only- this not only gives you the freshest and most nutritious part of the plant, but encourages new growth- which should be ready to harvest two weeks or so later..
- Now wash your harvest in cold water (to remove all bugs and mites).
- After leaving to dry, cut the leaves from the plant (some people choose to add the stems to the tea mix, but I found this produces a very bitter and woody taste).
- Fill your paper bag with the leaves, close lightly and leave above or near a dry heat source (radiator, wood burner or Rayburn) to allow the contents to dry-out fully (1-2 days).
- When your Nettle leaves are crisp and dry, pour contents into a bowl to be broken down to whatever consistency suites you best (NB- the sting will no longer be present).