It’s nettle season! I was out picking nettles in the garden the other day and remembered that some friends had expressed interest in them — so I invited them to come over and help themselves to my ample crop rather than forage around town and country for them as they were. Another friend jokingly summed up that whole exchange with this post’s title 🙂 Silly as it sounds, though, stinging nettles are the best sort of vegetable: tasty, nutritious and free! Although it grows in a few other places on our grounds, I make it a point to leave one portion of my large vegetable patch especially for them to proliferate. They need fertile soil to really reach their full potential and I figure if we’re eating them, we might as well treat them like the food item they are. It’s true what they say — it’s rather spinach-like in both taste and usage.
There are plenty of articles already on how healthy they are for you, and they seem to be on the trendy side in some locales, so I’ll just let you Google those folks to find out more about all that. Below, I’m just sharing how I harvest and store nettles when they are at their peak for harvest, which is right around now in southern Finland. Our growing season starts a bit late since we’re so far north — people in most others countries were picking back in April.
A bucket of freshly picked nettle tops. They are best picked when the plants are still relatively young and the stalks are tender. Pick the top 4-6 leaves, which are the most edible. This will also encourage the plant to put out another flush of tender greens for further picking. I have used both rose gloves and rubber-tipped tongs to pick nettles — both work great. Haven’t gotten stung since I started, knock on wood. Not that it’s very hard to fix a sting, really — there are lots of plants growing in the same area that neutralize it pretty fast. Dandelion sap and aloe were always my standbys.
Tops being rinsed in a colander under cold running water, to get any dirt and bugs off. Not that there were too many, since it’s still early days in our garden.
And then they get popped straight into the food processor. I don’t like blanching since it takes away some of the nutrients in the cooking water — I’ve done the same thing with many other veggies with great results.
After a minute with the chopping blades, it is a nice texture for all sorts of recipes.
It gets spooned directly into plastic bags and popped into the freezer chest downstairs, to be used whenever a recipe calls for something green.
Recipes to come, once I finish processing and freezing as much as I can!