Eating the Nettle, Why Why Why
That's a lyric from a beloved but forgotten Hall and Oates song called, "Stung in the Spring." You can youtube it. They probably wrote it right about now, late February, when the Nettles are plentiful and beautiful. These generous stands of Springtime medicine are the a Northwest wildcrafting delight.
Delightful because nettle is one of the finest nourishing tonics known. Every morning, I brew a strong jarful of Nettle, Wild Oat and Alfalfa tea, and then drink it throughout the day. The Wild Oats nourish the nervous system and the Alfalfa is full of minerals, but the Nettle is our heavy hitter. It is rich in vitamins A, C, D, and K, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and sulphur. It also lowers inflammation and is a natural antihistamine, making it a favorite for allergies and inflamed sinuses. Nettle is also a wonderful lymph and blood cleanser. The tea poured directly on the head and taken internally is also an old folk remedy for hair loss.
There is some debate in the herbal community about whether or not vitamins and anti-histamines are destroyed by temperatures over 110 degrees. If you'd like to be double dog sure that you're getting all that, make pesto or a “cold infusion.”
When collecting, don’t worry too much about getting stung. Traditionally, fresh Nettles were applied directly to arthritic joints--the increased flow of blood and lymph to the “stung” joint was said to clear inflammation.
1. Wear gloves
2. Pick off the top whorl of the nettle. Fill a basket or 4.
3. Always when wild crafting, take no more than 10% of a stand.
Make the Pesto
This is a real create your own adventure recipe. You can adjust the amounts according to your taste.
- Olive Oil
- Nuts -- walnuts or pine nuts are best
- Sea salt(s)
- 1-3 cloves of garlic (optional)
- other young Spring greens you’d like to include like dandelion, arugula or parsley
You’ll need a Cuisinart or a hearty blender.
Fill the Cuisinart with Nettles
Add a couple handfuls of nuts, and a few teaspoons of salt
Pour in enough olive oil to make the mixture into a paste. Add more olive oil if you like your pesto smoother, and less if you like it thicker.
Add in garlic and other herbs here if you like.
I always suggest using as many different shades of high quality salt that you can find, as this greatly increases the mineral content of your food. If you live in Seattle, SugarPill sells a wide array of salts.
Another delicious way to enjoy this plant is to simply saute it in butter. Add water to the pan as needed.
I was lying about Hall and Oats. I wrote that song. Still youtube it.
*Note: If you tend to have issues with excessive dryness, especially if you have very thick hair, use Nettles sparingly. Their effect on the kidneys is nourishing for most people, but if your kidneys are already working overtime and drying you out, Nettles may not be your remedy. Follow your intuition and if you are concerned, please visit with a practicing herbalist in your area. We are happy to connect you to one if you get in touch.