Stinging Nettle

Blog post description.

Legend Has It

2021-01-23 2 min read

Stinging Nettle

Urtica Dioica. Nettle. Stinging Nettle. Ever heard of it? Well, today is your lucky day. Let’s back up. Does your mind ever wander while you are hiking to those ‘what if’ scenarios? What if I fall and break my ankle? What could I use to as a makeshift brace and bandage? What if I somehow get lost and have to survive? What type of plants could I eat to survive? Are there any fish around?

Well, today is your lucky day! If there is stinging nettle in your area, you are set. The amount of protein in stinging nettle is amazing! More than meat or nuts. It has a bunch of other health benefits as well. Click here to learn more from WebMD. However, please consult with your doctor for medical treatment. As amazing as nettle is, it doesn’t have a medical degree and cannot give you a diagnosis or treatment plan. However, it can be brewed into a tea, chewed on raw (after a trick we will share below), added to salad, sauteed, or (our family favorite) made into a pesto sauce. Our kids love it. It was our daughter’s requested birthday meal last year!

Typically, we avoid things that poke us and draw blood. Stinging nettle will get you, even through gloves if they’re very thin. The best way to harvest it is with a very thick pair of work gloves. Bring a bag, a knife or scissors, and a pair of gloves. Then harvest away. Springtime nettle tastes the best. If it is older, then you may end up with a strong graininess in your food. However, if you are making tea, that should not be a major factor. Tea is simple. Boil some water, seep the leaves. Done. For other recipes, after you harvest the leaves, you will want to cook them with a little bit of water until they are nicely wilted. Drain them and you should be ready to cook with them, no gloves required. As they cook, their ability to sting goes away. Check out Getty Stewart for some great stinging nettle recipes.

Typically, we follow a basic pesto recipe, just substituting nettle for basil. We have enjoyed making pesto with pine nuts, but it also works well with walnuts when you are on a stricter budget. You can seep the leaves into a tea for as long as you like. Our norm is about 5 minutes. The longer you go the darker the water gets.

My wife had a colleague in the Netherlands who would brew a big pot of nettle tea at the beginning of the week, then drink it throughout the week at her leisure, chilled or warmed. It was in the Netherlands that we first learned about the benefits of stinging nettle. We used to walk along the paths around our home in the spring and harvest some nettle. Free and delicious. Now, we hike along the local trails in Southern California in the Spring and enjoy harvesting it with our kids. Unfortunately, poison oak seems to enjoy the same growing area and makes harvesting a bit trickier. That is a plant for another post.

But, what if you are in the wilderness, trying to survive and don’t have time to sit around and make pesto or tea? Here’s the trick: using your gloves (make-shift ones if necessary), take a leaf and roll it up in a ball. Roll it between your fingers and work it all around. This will break off the nettles, leaving you with a harmless leaf ready to be popped into your mouth. Just inspect if first to make sure you really did get the pokers off.

There you go. A super source of protein, no preparation needed. Ready to help you survive. Or waiting for you to harvest along the trails, make into pesto, freeze into ice cube trays and use whenever your kids want some stinging nettle pasta.

Enjoy your adventure today!