About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Foraged Food Friday: Nettles

Um, yes, I am a bit late with this (though I did eat the nettles on Friday), and I don't even have anything very exciting to tell you about. We went for a walk along the coast yesterday, where I hoped to find some interesting coastal plants, but didn't spot anything apart from seaweed, which I'm not quite brave enough to try just yet.

So, what do we have? It's boring old nettles. Well, they're boring to me because I've been eating them for years, but perhaps you've never tried them? Like dandelions, nettles are widely regarded as a troublesome garden weed, but unlike dandelions (in my opinion) the leaves are a tasty vegetable. Some describe them as bland, but I find it quite a strong flavour and prefer to mix them with blander leaves, on this occasion ground elder.

One small nettle (Urtica dioica) coming through the grass

The obvious feature of nettles is the sting, which puts a lot of people off eating them, but there are ways of dealing with it, mainly by cooking. I know someone who even eats nettles raw. She crushes the stinging hairs by rolling the leaves between her fingers and then, she says, they're quite safe to eat. I'm not that brave, myself. My technique is to take scissors to snip the young leaves off and catch them in a colander. I don't bother with gloves, so do occasionally get stung through one of the holes in the colander, but mostly I'm fine. To prepare them to eat, I tip them into a pan or (usually) steamer and cook until they're thoroughly wilted. I once undercooked some and there was a zing to the flavour, somewhat like chilli or ginger. It was rather pleasant, but I'm not sure I'd do it deliberately.

As well as being quite tasty, nettles are very rich in nutrients, particularly iron. They've been used medicinally for all sorts of things, and the plants have numerous other uses, too. Check out the Plants for a Future page for more details. All in all, nettles are a highly valuable plant, so don't be scared of them!

Also harvesting this week
Heather (for ale)
Ground elder

Also drinking
Sloe wine
Blackberry wine

Foraged food challenge summary page here.

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