I believe we all know the nettles, however not for the best reasons.. I remember as yesterday the first time I encountered one - or actually a few - with my butt, in shorts, in the forest. Nobody warned me about them - but as the experience proves, i would never forget them :-)
And now I am looking for them, haha :-)
Today some ideas about how to pluck the nettle (and later the dandelion) leaves and how to use them.
The best time for plucking the nettle is when it's young.
Please use thick leather gloves:-)
Use the top third of the plant and if you have time, pluck directly only the leaves, and only after plucking the leaves, cut or break the "bold" stem. If you do not have the time to do that on the spot, cut the leaves at home, but know it takes more determination and some extra logistics:-)
And do not pluck and/or use any nettle after it started blooming. "After the stinging nettle enters its flowering and seed setting stages the leaves develop gritty particles called"cystoliths", which can irritate the urinary tract." (wikipedia)
You can also get skilled and pluck with your bare hand only the tip of the plants - because the part that stings is the top "face" of the leaves. If you want to make a green smoothie or a soup, you'll need a lot of nettle tops :-) If you, on the other hand, only want a cup of tea and have no gloves, that could be the way to go..
If you do not have the nettles in your garden, please go and pluck them as far away from pollution as possible. Also consider places that would not be on the way of walking dogs - or cats - or people! - for that matter :-)
Collect the nettle leaves in a thick (plastic) bag or in a bowl if you are at home.
Decide before hand what you want to do with the nettle as it is better to "work" with it while is fresh.
To ban the sting you can soak them in water (they say - mine still sting after 1 hour) or bleach them (which works but not in case you want to use them raw).
I also noticed that after they are in the fridge for 24 hours they do not sting any more..
Anyway, try it first before you dig your hands deep into the leaves bag, ok?
If they still sting, throw them in your blender like that, they won't sting in the smoothie:-) Some people eat the leaves like that and they like the sting on their tong, I am not one of these people :-)
Some things you can make with nettle are:
In case you are stung, I copied here for your convenience, from our friends from:
Wkipedia / Many folk remedies exist for treating the itching including Dandelion (see hereunder also), horsetail (Equisetopsida spp.), leaf of dock (Rumexspp.), Greater Plantain, Jewelweed, (Impatiens capensis and Impatiens pallida), the underside of a fern (the spores), mud, saliva, or baking soda, oil and onions, and topical use of milk of magnesia. Lemon juice also works for treatment. Alternatively, one can simply ignore the stinging sensation and let it run its (harmless) course. Simply washing with water (immediately after stinging) also helps.
If you have a garden you probably fought a sacred and hopeless fight against it.
In Romanian (my mother tongue) it has a horrid name when it has the yellow flower and I stayed away from it until it made the seeds and I loved it then.
Now I know better.
I use the leaves, especially when they are young, in salads and green smoothies.
I also use the flowers as they are also eatable. Not only for us - but also for 95 kinds of insects, it appears from the studies.
I bathe the leaves extensively (also look out that the place is not a toilet for animals or people)..
One can also make dandelion tea and the leaves and flowers can also be used just like other more known leaves.. In salads, in sandwiches, etc.
Especially with a bit of salt, lemon and pepper they have a great flavor.
Tear them rather than cut them - to keep the flavor intact. T
hey are a bit more bitter than spinach, for example - but as I already suggested a few days ago, bitter might be a taste we need to eat more of (our liver will loooove us for it).
Dandelion soup, omelet, etc, all are possible and yummy.
Go ahead, het wild and pick some weeds - and make them your friends.