Stinging nettles had such a strong childhood memory of being the ghastlies who interrupted the enjoyment of blackberry picking with their ouchy hot hitting sting its a very pleasant surprise to now see them as joyful, delicious, nutritious precious gifts!
I was lucky enough to spend the day with Fred the Forager a few year ago who shared his excellent explanation of their value as a delicacy food and nourishing tonic in the woods at Lacock, Wiltshire. We sat round a fire after a woodland tour of all the edibles as he cooked them, wilting them down a bit like you would spinach with a knob of butter. I havent looked back, a memory was etched deeply there and then, the nettle initiation.
I highly recommend any workshop with Fred, his apporach to herbalism is informed, fresh, sensible and dynamic. He has a very intuitive relationship to nature but also has a very deep understanding the the scientific side.
Since then I have made nette fritters in batter, nettle sun infusion drink and loads of the long brew infusions. For the sun infusion Take a cold jug of water a bunch of nettles, roughly chopped and a few fresh lemon balm leaves and leave in the sun for a few hours and then strain and drink. Its so delicate frgrant and light, the taste to my buds anyway is heavenly, really. Its full of vitamin C too.
Last year I pick them fresh ever day for 6 weeks dried them in a dehydrator and then made overnight 8 hour infusions with the leaves. I made it in 1 litre mason jars qtr by volume to hot water, in other words i put enough dried leaf in the jar to come quarter of the way up the jar. If you have read the oatstraw blog the same goes here, wait until the boiled water has cooled or add cold before adding the boiling water.. thereby bringing the temp downwater to 85 degrees. This prevents destroying the nutrients. From what I understand the nettles are an excellent kindney tonic and they build constitutional qi energy in chinese medicine terminology. I loved the feeling of taking them everyday. I was looking to see if they made a difference to the chronic fatigue and i didnt get a huge result but having said that without taking them tat often them I am on lower levels so its difficult to say for sure ow much of a boost they were giving to my energy. Oe thing I do know is that it was excellent for my skin. It made it very soft and my hairdresser asked me what I had been doing since, a good measure of a ifference over six weeks inbetween appointments.. Also I know it felt intuitely good and very rewarding to be getting nourishment for free from the land. I firmly believe that there are micronutrients available in wild foods not available in cultivaed vegetables. As long as they are picked from a zone away from traffic and other pollutants there is the definite advantage of not consuming pesticides.
After June 21st they have a glassy sunstance in their leaves so are best used for teas and infusions only after that time and not for cooking as a vegetable.
Nettles are rich in vitamins A, B2, C, D, and K and have important nutrients like antioxidants, amino acids and chlorophyll. They’re also a good source of calcium, potassium, iodine, manganese and iron.
This is information I got from this website
Analgesic, anti-rheumatic, anti-convulsant, antihistamine, astringent and hypotensive properties.
Each cup of nettles supplies an impressive 1,790 IU of vitamin A, which is three times the recommended daily value.
Treating anemia and fatigue due to a high iron and chlorophyll content.
Reducing the pain associated with urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Relief of arthritis, joint pain and gout when taken internally or used topically.
Treating Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) – a non-cancerous condition that causes the prostate gland to enlarge, making urination difficult.
Reducing the symptoms of hay fever and allergies by acting as an anti-inflammatory. Some research has linked treatment with nettle leaf to relief of symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes. In one study, 57% of patients rated nettles as effective in relieving allergies, and 48% said that nettles were more effective than allergy medications they had used previously.
Nettle has been used for over 2,000 years to stop bleeding and it is considered to be a good blood purifier