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[eafl id=”225″ name=”Nettle Tea” text=”Nettle Tea”]
If you have ever hiked in the woods, pulled weeds from your garden, or just walked around your yard, I bet you have encountered Stinging Nettle plants. These plants are notorious for their sting! And, if you have ever been stung by these plants you already know the stinging, itching pain that this plant causes when you touch it. But, did you know that Stinging Nettle (or Urtica dioica), is an edible plant and very nutritious!
Nettle can actually be sauteed, added to soups and stews, brewed into tea and even fermented into beer or wine. Who knew this nasty, pain inducing plant could be used in so many ways!
So what makes Nettle so great!
- It is naturally high in Calcium and Iron.
- They are a good source of potassium and magnesium.
- Nettle has significant amounts of Vitamin A, C, D, and K.
- And, it is also a good source of protein.
Where to Find Nettle:
They can be found in areas where it is sunny and the soil is rich. It thrives along streams, rivers and on old farms. Nettle is considered invasive. I personally have seen it growing all over the place, including my own yard and unfortunately have been stung by it more times than I can count!
What does it look like?
Nettle has jagged leaves in pairs along the square stems and are easily recognizable, especially after having experienced the sting! And, you don’t forget the sting of Nettle.
How to Harvest:
First and foremost, make sure you have completely covered any parts of your body that may come in contact with this plant! I recommend gloves and a long sleeve shirt for harvesting. Nettle can be harvested in the Spring and throughout the Summer. However, keep in mind that it is the most tender when harvested in early spring when it first starts sprouting from the ground. Always, harvest the tender tops (4-6 leaves or 2-3 leaf sets) for food.
First things first, cooking, drying and crushing stinging nettle will disarm the stinging!
It is up to you whether you wash it or not.
To wash it, put on a pair of gloves or use tongs to dip and swish the nettles in a bowl of cold water, repeat, then drain. Water droplets can cause dark spots on drying herbs, so remove surface moisture by laying it on a clean towel. If you are in a hurry you can dab the leaves dry with another towel.
In a dehydrator…
- Spread stems and leaves on the drying trays of a dehydrator. Set the temperature at its lowest setting (95°F or 35°C) and dry for 12 to 18 hours.
- The stems will take longer to dry than the leaves, so always test them instead of the leaves to determine if the drying is done. (Note: you can also separate the leaves and the stems and dry them separately.)
To hang dry…
- Gather 5-6 stems and tie together with kitchen string. To allow for good air circulation, do not tie too many stems together.
- Label your bundles and hang in a clean, dry and dark place.
- The length of time it takes to dry your stinging nettle depends on the size of your bundles, the humidity level and maturity of the nettles. This could take up to three weeks. Make sure the stems are completely dry before you take them down.
To store it, keep the leaves and stems in big pieces to retain as much flavor and essential oils as possible. Store in paper bags or glass jars.
Dried nettle is used for making tea and tea blends.
Start the freezing process by washing your stinging nettle as indicated above.
For best results, blanch the stinging nettles.
To blanch stinging nettles, simply add the nettles to boiling water and boil for approximately 2 minutes. Remove from the boiling water and immediately soak in ice water for approximately 2 minutes.
*Your blanching water can be put in a pitcher and refrigerated; you have essentially made [eafl id=”225″ name=”Nettle Tea” text=”Nettle Tea”]. (See Below)
Squeeze and drain as much water as possible from the nettles.
Use a food processor or a knife to finely chop the Nettles, then fill freezer bags with the desired amount. (Usually, about 1/2 cup)
I like to add some olive oil to the food processor and freeze them in [eafl id=”211″ name=”Ball Herb Starter” text=”Ball Herb Starters”] (Or you can use ice cube trays). (if you want to see the product click on the link!) These containers are great for freezing herbs in measurable amounts for quick use.
Add frozen chopped nettles to soup, casseroles, pasta dishes, stir fries, stews, egg dishes, dips, spaghetti sauce, etc.
You might be wondering, how do Nettles taste?
Nettle tastes very similar to spinach.
How I use the Nettle Tea:
I mix equal parts of the Nettle tea (in this case the blanching water) and black tea. Then, I add lemon and local honey to taste. I drink this to help sooth my allergies during hay fever season. Remember to always consult a physician, herbalist, or another health care professional before using Nettle or any other herb for medicinal purposes.
So, your not sure about foraging for Nettle but would like to try the Tea, click on the link to purchase [eafl id=”225″ name=”Nettle Tea” text=”Nettle Tea”]!