Starting to peek through in our wild expanse of land are a few nettles. This belies how many we actually have here on an annual basis…. in fact since we bought the smallholding we have been battling brambles and nettles. We leave large patches of both in various areas as habitat for all sorts of critters. The nettles most notably bring a lot of ladybirds and a lot of butterflies. I have mentioned them in a January post but they are really coming through now so I thought deserve a bigger mention.
Nettles appear in EVERY foraging text!
The presence of Nettles mean good rich soil for growing. They were once called poor man’s spinach and even the Romans travelled with nettle seeds.
Nettles can be willowed into fibres, ropes and cloths, paper and a dye.
Nettles are medicinal, they are high in vitamin C and eating nettles will reduce blood sugar levels and help people with diabetes. They also lower blood pressure.
They were used in cheese making as a substitute for rennet.
How to eat Nettles…
Some people choose to eat them raw!!!! That is not for me though!!
Nettle Tea – Just add a few nettle tops into a teapot of boiling water, let infuse for 15 minutes and drink! Better than any shop bought stuff!
Hedgerow Medicine has a nettle soup recipe, as does Foraging with Kids.. Adele’s other book, the Hedgerow Handbook, has recipes for nettle mushroom crumble, nettle beer and nettle syrup.
You can also dehydrate the nettle tops for saving for future teas or blanch and freeze as you would spinach!