Thursday, April 2, 2009

More on nettles...

Martian Chick, one of my followers, my sweet beloved followers
mentioned that she liked raw veggies and greens.
I am here to say that you can eat nettles raw/uncooked.
I do it all the time.
I like them in salads and on sandwiches and burgers.
And they are really good on homemade pizza.

I just pick them and let them wilt for awhile.
I usually stick them in a baggie in the fridge until I am ready to eat them.
They have a mild flavor and they taste very green.

I also dry them for a tea that is unbelievably good for you.
I pick them and lay them out in the shade on a sheet or on a screen.
I am lucky enough to have plenty of screens from old storm doors lying around
and use them to dry most of my herbs that don't get hung to dry.
I don't dry them in the sun for the leaves are very papery
and would dry to quickly.
I fluff them periodically until they are paper dry.
Then I crush them up and remove the stiffest of the stems.
They diffuse into tea better when crushed
rather than when you use the whole leaves.
I store mine in mason jars, but I make sure that they are
very, very, very, very dry first.
You can also store them in paper bags.

I use the tea as a drink. I mix with cranberry juice. yum.
And I use the tea on my hair and skin.
Nettle tea for your hair is great.
Stops dandruff and leaves your hair shiny, thick, full and healthy.
It was THE remedy for baldness for ages.
I just pour a cup of it over my head after I shampoo.
Don't rinse out. You can also work into your scalp when
your hair is dry. That is a great trick to get rid of the dry,
crackly, 'I heat with a woodstove' look that winter can give.

I use it on my face after I wash. It is like a vitamin infusion
for your skin. My skin looks fresh and healthy and moisture rich
which is good as I tend to have paper thin, dry skin.

To make the tea I take a good pinch of the dried nettles
and put them in my tea ball. I do a quart jar at a time.
I hang the ball chain over the side and screw down the lid
to keep the essential oils from escaping in the steam.
I leave it overnight usually.
Having a tea ball is a new and wondrous thing for me.
I have only had it for a few months.
Before that I would just toss a pinch into the jar
and then strain the leaves.
The tea ball is much better.

And don't toss your dregs. Put them in the compost!!
Like comfrey, nettles are great for your compost and for your plants.
Sometimes I use the tea in a sprayer to give my plants a quick mineral boost.
I also ferment my dregs and stems (like the ones from last night's meal)
in a quart jar. Ewwww after a week or two, but very good for the garden.
I use it on my seedlings.

And nettles are good for livestock. Back in the day
they would feed crushed, dried nettles to horses before
they sold them to improve the gloss and condition of the horses'
coats so they could demand a higher price.
It is said that nettles (again, crushed and dried) mixed
into chicken feed can make a dead hen lay an egg.
It is great for the lactation support of milking animals
like cows and goats... and nursing moms as well.
It is the high mineral content that does it. We really don't get
enough minerals in our diet anymore. And nursing babies
just rips it out of you... more than anything else.

And while I am on my nettle soapbox I will share another tidbit.
Nettles make great fiber!
Again, back in the day nettles were used for cloth
and rope. The fibers in full grown nettles are very long.
Healthy nettles in rich, moist soil and good sun can
reach 7 feet tall. I have never seen one that tall, but they say it can happen.
You rett the nettles by rotting the stalks until the meat
falls away. You can do it in an old bathtub or in a still part
of the creek.
The woven cloth from nettles is said the be softer than silk
and can be made to be stronger than canvas.
Now that is saying something!
Nettles make a high quality paper too.
One day. One day I will rett some and see what I can do.
I am not familiar with all of the process that go into
making cloth, but I can make paper.
We shall see.
I would truly love to just have a nettle farm.
But until the word gets out about nettles
I think I would just be sitting on a lot of product.

I hope that this has opened some eyes
about the wonders of stinging nettles.
So, next time you are walking the creek bed, take a look.
Best to pick them for eating when young and tender.
Just pick the tops and they can produce for you all summer.
In the fall I go through and gather large quantities
for drying to use through the winter.

But if you are harvesting wild please remember to pick one and leave three.
Let me know if any of you give nettles a whirl and like it.
If you don't like them...shhhhhhhh.


  1. That was the best post on nettles I've ever read! Now I'm all charged up to find me some! I do have a 'prick' of a memory of some nettles by my strawberries, LOL. Thanks for the wonderful information and the pictures. I can never remember what they look like until it's too late.

    Susan in NY

  2. That was extremely interesting, Jen! My parents have a lot of nettles out behind their barn. Maybe, I'll give them a whirl and see if I like them. With so many uses, I'm bound to like at least a couple of the ways that they can be utilized.