Nettle grows up to four feet tall and has toothed, pointed leaves that sting when touched. In spite of its stinging, Nettles are of considerable use in many ways. Nettle is used in cooking. The secret in using them safely is all in deactivating the hairs that line the stems of the plant. They are the culprits that release the chemicals that cause the sting. You can eat raw stinging nettle if you fold the leaves UP over the stems and hairs, the trick is to never rub the hairs against the direction they go. OR, you can simply soak the nettles in cold water, or blanch them, and chop them all up in the food processor. All of these methods deactivate the sting, and then you can use them in delicious recipes.
Cook as you would spinach and use in salads. A great source of vitamins A and C, iron and a variety of other minerals.
A cup of warm water followed by a cup of nettle tea first thing in the morning will get you going in the bowel department-Nettle also cleanses the liver and helps keep infections at bay. Two cups a day should keep you as regular as clock work. I find a cup in the middle of the day is a great pick me up too. And for those with oily skin, implement Nettle tea to your daily regimen and you will see a marked improvement, so, afternoon tea should be a delight. Add honey or lemon for a refreshing taste.
Nettle beer is brewed from the young shoots. Nettle root is used for medicinal purposes including enlarged prostate and when there is difficulty in urination due to BPH. Nettle tea made from the root can help urinary ailments. Tea made from the leaves is rich in iron and can aid coagulation and the formation of hemoglobin.
They are also thought to increase levels of serotonin in the body, act as an anti-inflammatory for people suffering from arthritis, and they have even been recommended as a cure for bedwetting.
You can overharvest nettle, so be sure to leave a large patch untouched if you want it to come back next year. Only harvest the top two sets of leaves to get the tenderest nettles. Below that that stems get kind of stringy…
Caution: When collecting stinging nettle always cover up all exposed skin. The swollen base of each tiny, hollow hair contains a droplet of formic acid. When the hair tip pierces the skin, the acid makes it into the skin causing anywhere from an annoying itch or burning that can last several minutes or a couple of days. Rubbing the stings with stinging nettle root has been used to suppress the itch/burning sensation.
Stinging Nettle Pesto:
3 cups raw stinging nettles
3 medium garlic cloves
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup olive oil
Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1. Using tongs or gloves, measure 3 tightly packed cups of raw young nettle tops. Add them to salted boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, drain immediately and then place the greens in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Cool, strain and squeeze dry using a tea towel to remove every drop of moisture that you can.
2. Coarsely chop the nettles to make about 1 cup. Add them to the bowl of a food processor with the garlic cloves and pine nuts. While pulsing, slowly add the olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time. Season to taste with Himalayan salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. You might add a small knob of soft butter and a squeeze of lemon juice if it needs brightening. Blend once more to incorporate the final additions.
Makes 1 generous cup
Nettle Pesto Buns:
If you are interested in making the buns prepare your favorite recipe for bread dough. Here is one recipe for nettle pesto. After the first rise of the bread, roll out the dough into a flat rectangle. Then brushed the surface with olive oil, and spread a generous layer of pesto (you’ll need close to a cup) evenly over the surface of the oiled dough. Roll it up as evenly as possible and cut into 8 or 9 even rolls. Put them together in a baking pan, brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano – Reggiano cheese and let them rise a second time. Put into a 400 degree F preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Cool on a rack…if you can stop yourself from eating too many of them as soon as they come out of the oven!