Meandering my way along the creek on my daily foraging walk, what should I spy but sun reflecting off of a patch of gorgeously spikey green leaves… Stinging Nettles!
I practically cackled with glee.
Forage basket already full of wild edibles, I eagerly shuffled rose hips, mint, dandelion flowers and greens to the side to make a prized spot for my new bounty.
Despite the fact that I left my trusty gloves behind on the kitchen counter I forged forward and reached in carefully to harvest the stinging foliage- a bit of pain is a small price to pay for a great dinner!
Many people would rather avoid an encounter with a stinging nettle, thinking of them as an annoyingly itchy weed, not as the deeeelicious gourmet wild edible they are!
STINGING NETTLES are chock full of vital nutrients- carrying a rich bounty of vitamins A, K, several important B vitamins, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Phosphorus and loads of other beneficial minerals and phytonutrients… And BONUS: they actually taste good!
They remind me of a lighter, more delicate version of Spinach. So simple to prepare: you can have them ready to eat inside of minutes… (they are oh soooo good with pastured butter and a little bit of sea salt and pepper!)
Here’s one of my favorite Stinging Nettle Recipes:
Stinging Nettle Omelette
2 cups Tender Stinging Nettle Stems and Leaves (freshly collected if possible)
1/2 roughly chopped Shallot
1 tbs pastured butter
1 cup water
Sea Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
What to do:
-In a small sauce pan add water and nettles.
-Bring to low boil for 10-15 minutes. (Add more water as necessary.)
-Drain and save the nettles to the side.
NOTE: to retain the nutrients that would otherwise be lost in the cooking fluid, you can reserve this liquid to add to your soups and stocks.
-Chop the nettles finely.
-Beat the eggs and stir in the nettles.
-Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
-melt butter in a small skillet.
– pour in egg/nettle mix and cook for 2-3 minutes over medium heat, until partially set.
– flip with spatula (or if you’re fancy, flip with the skillet)
-cook for another 1-2 minutes
-reduce heat to low, continue cooking another 1-3 minutes (to desired doneness).
Where and how to Harvest Stinging Nettles
You’ll usually find Stinging Nettles all over the US in nitrogen rich soil, so look near the edges of fields, where cattle graze, or (conveniently for us) human houses and gardens…
Harvest when they are young and small- at under 1 ft tall they are usually pretty tender. The tiny spines will loose all their sting after a good boil or sautee in butter- all the better for you to dig in… YUM!
(Note: you might want gloves to harvest them)