I decided that this is the year that I would try some wild edibles that I haven’t tried before. Stinging Nettle is a pain – literally – but it was brought to this country by the colonists as a medicinal herb and has gone wild and is currently considered an invasive species. Nearly any roadside, farmsite, or disturbed plot of land will have a stand of stinging nettles growing – Free Food!
I started by putting on rubber handed gloves as some of my just cloth garden gloves will still allow the nettles to sting (FYI a baking soda paste will alleviate the stinging). Then I just went out and pulled a few.
Next I stripped the leaves into a steamer. I have eaten them before stalks and all just boiled, but I wanted to give the steamed method a try this time.
You want to steam them long enough to really wilt or your tongue will feel it – 4-7 minutes. I added a dab of butter, salt, pepper, with some garlic sprinkled over it as having eaten it before I thought the garlic would add a flavorful punch and it did. I did throw some leaves into the rest of the water and let them steep a bit for a tea.
So how was it? Excellent! But I think I almost prefer it boiled with the stalks. Tastes akin to spinach and is one of the first plants up in the spring for a fresh vegetable.
The tea has a unique flavor, but not at all bad. Actually, it is better than a lot of the teas I have purchased. A dollop of honey would make it even more pleasing if you like sweet.