This fiery wild edible, scientifically referred to as Urtica dioica, is a perennial of the Urticaceae family. It is a delicious wild food and potent herbal medicine — a prime example of where food and medicine meet. I am excited for this feral friend to be a source of food for the next couple of months. When harvesting it, I’ll pinch off the tips at the nodes. This encourages new, more abundant growth, ensuring a good nettle harvest for the season.
Nettle leaf has a rich, hearty (meaty), deep-green flavor. It makes a blood-building, vitamin- and mineral-rich tonic, especially high in calcium, magnesium and iron. Use it to support circulation and resolve wet cold conditions in the respiratory system. It supports kidney and adrenal function and is used for improving skin, hair, joints, allergies and arthritic conditions. Enjoy its rich flavor alone as a tea, or combine it with mint, lemon balm or other aromatic herbs.
Culinary Uses: Young shoot (under 18” tall) include leaf & tender stem: cooked in soup, stew, sauté, creamed, omelet, frittata, quiche, gratin, casserole, and beverage. Plant taller than 18” but before flower: cooked in beverages; dried & powdered in herbal truffle. Seed: raw as tonic food, in very small amounts.
A favorite way to prepare nettle is as a frittata. Check out our FRITTATA MASTER RECIPE, follow link in our profile or click here: http://bit.ly/1MbNeKm
Look for it in full sun to part shade in moist, fertile, well drained soil in meadows, riverbanks, woodland openings, edges, compost piles, gardens. Hardiness Zones (USDA): 4–8
To help with id harvest and use here is the Spring Nettle page (1of 2) from our book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi, illustrated by Wendy Hollender. Book Link: http://bit.ly/1Auh44Q
Cautionary Note: Plant stings when brushed against by releasing formic acid as well as other compounds from its hairs; protect skin when harvesting. Note: nettle stings can be curative & have been used for arthritic & rheumatic conditions. To relieve nettle sting, mash yellow or broad leaf dock leaves until juices run, then apply to irritated area for several minutes. Repeat if needed.
What is your favorite way to prepare nettle? Please share your nettle recipes!