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And, it’s certainly not enough of a negative to keep me from harvesting and enjoying these amazing plants. HOW TO HARVEST STINGING NETTLE. Do you know if they are still safe to eat? Nettles can also be added directly to soups and stews, or even baked. There's some confusion and disagreement about the naming and validity of the various subspecies (or species), but for culinary purposes it's worth pointing out that all varieties have stinging hairs with the exception of the European 'fen nettle' (Urtica dioica galeopsifolia, sometimes called U. d. pubescens). Check the terminal (top) bud for signs of an inhabitant before harvesting. For food and medicine, harvest in the spring BEFORE they “flower” unless it’s a survival situation, because once they flower they develop a cystolith that’s damaging to the liver and kidneys. Fortunately, individual plants will often be at different reproductive stages depending on their location, substrate, overstory, etc. An additional variety from Central Asia (U. d. afghanica) is sometimes stingless, and sometimes not. If you’re wearing gloves, grasp the base in one hand and run your other hand from base to tip in order to strip off the leaves. I am happy this spring to see a bunch of nettle volunteers in the garden. They lose their sting in the first 30 seconds of cooking. – Chris, Your email address will not be published. As a general rule, only the youngest shoots and most tender stinging nettle leaves are eaten. Our Virtual Outdoor Camps were featured in the New York Times on July 6, 2020 and check out how we exceeded standards for in-person summer camp protocols during the pandemic era. It is recommended that you wear gloves and long sleeves when harvesting stinging nettle. Because the pain of a nettle sting is caused by a chemical cocktail, it's not easily relieved. Nettles are rather interesting from a health and science perspective. Immediate relief! Stinging Nettles is one of the wild foods that come up every Spring in our garden. Use rubber gloves or pinch the leaves hard, so you don’t get stung. Serving Seattle-Tacoma & Western Washington since 1997. Nettles, as a wild food, have not been cultivated to produce varieties. Serve with crackers, chopped vegetables or on pasta. These clusters will soon go to seed and become slightly brown. Others crush and apply Yellow Dock leaves or rub the welt/sting with the spores on the under side of Sword Fern leaves. Resist the urge to reach in and stir them up because they can still sting you while they’re moist. picking them, for they are rich in vitamin C, calcium, potassium, flavonoids, histamine, and serotonin—all the great chemicals one needs to reenergize after a cold winter and to combat Spring allergies. If you would like to dry your nettles for tea, there are many options. Fortunately, cooking nettles is very simple and completely eradicates their stinging capabilities. Do i wait till the fall to harvest for tea and can i use the stems and leaves? stinging nettles: harvesting, eating, cooking stinging nettles in a nutshell. So I recently found a stand of nettles near my house that are some of the toughest, gnarliest, “stingiest” I have ever encountered. I avoid picking any that are very dark brown/black. CAUTION: Stinging nettles can sting! Video: 10 Uses of Stinging … It's worth noting that these will be picked form the wild as well, since nettles are not generally cultivated in any meaningful way. Try some freshly made then immediately freeze, and a batch with blanched nettles then frozen, and when you unfreeze and taste, let us know your thoughts! If a creature makes its home there, choose another. We recommend that you consult with a qualified health care practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing or on any medications. The nettles should be softer and a deeper green colour, but not falling apart. Because nettles are generally harvested from the wild, distinctions between conventional and organic growing are not usually applicable. In the meantime, order dried nettle leaf for medicinal/tonic use from Mountain Rose Herbs or other trusted supplier. in Wildlife Science from the University of Washington College of Forest Resources. Harvesting the terminal (top) bud will stimulate lateral bud growth causing the plant to become more bushy and allowing you to harvest continually from the same plant. Stinging nettle is a cold season perennial plant, meaning it is early to pop up in the spring. We dry them inside the house, a short distance away from a hvac vent. The easy answer is to use scissors and wear long sleeves, long pants and work gloves. Learn how to confidently identify plants using their unique family patterns in this in-depth video by author of Botany in a Day, Thomas Elpel. No definitely not safe if they have any discoloration. Avoid brown, mottled, or otherwise discolored leaves. Rinse the nettles in cold water, then strip the leaves into a large bowl, discarding the stalks. Cooking the nettles will neutralize the sting, but the hairs are still visible. The name is appropriate - if handled improperly, they can deliver a moderately painful sting that can linger for hours or even days. A leafy green member of the nettle family (Urticaceae). If you would like to use nettles for food or tea, then harvest them before they flower. Consider adding a little bit of escarole in combination with one of the other greens listed above. It all depends upon your goal. I believe they are flowering now. Thanks, – Chris. In fact, nettles are a wild-type food, without any agricultural cultivars or varieties. Any nettles picked from a clean, uncontaminated area can be considered effectively organic. Cutting: The young, tender leaves near the top of the plant are best for culinary and medicinal purposes. Stinging nettles can sometimes be found in farmers’ markets, and are available from some seed companies for home growing, but they remain by-and-large a wild food. I’ve found this works like a charm with most damp mud. I rarely get stung (unless I’m showing others what it’s like) but when I do there are a few natural remedies nearby that I like to use. That being said, there is some variation within the wild populations around the world. We were voted BEST NATURE CAMP and BEST FAMILY CAMP of 2019 by Parent Map, the region's premier family resource, in their Golden Teddy award survey. The stinging power of nettles is instantly dismantled when they’re cooked (and by have fine hairs on the leaves and stems that contain irritating chemicals, which are released when the plant comes in contact with the skin. Then I run them under cold tap water to rinse away any dirt or debris and give them a last look before processing. Leave damaged plants and consider the critters. That being said, fresh kale tends to be tougher and a little more green and mustardy in taste than nettles. You can find videos online that show you how to do this. I didn’t get stung once while picking. Wolf Camp DEIJ – Black Lives Matter as do Brown & Asian immigrants in our country. For fiber, harvest the entire stem. Cheers! There’s a common misconception out there that stinging nettles cause a mechanical injury by stabbing you (much like a rosebush), but this isn’t true, or at least it isn’t the primary cause of pain. At this point in its life-cycle, the nettle plant begins producing deposits of calcium carbonate (lime) called cystoliths. Never put anything in your mouth unless you are 100% sure it is safe to ingest. Kale is likewise fairly similar in texture, and dried kale works quite well in place of dried nettles. Pick the smaller nettle plants, 1-3 feet in height, as the larger plants are not as tender. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Remember that wild foods rely on us to be their stewards as well, so ensure that you leave enough of the plant to allow it to survive and/or to feed wild animals that might rely upon it. Place a large non-stick frying pan on a medium heat with 1 knob of butter, strip in the marjoram and stir in the leeks. They will satisfy my hamburger cravings. They have more protein than any other edible plant I know of. Short Term: Refrigerate in a breathable plastic bag for 3-5 daysLong Term: Blanch for 1 minute, then rinse, drain, and freeze. Other plants can be used to protect the hands while picking nettles. Make sure not to dry them to the point where they lose their green color and turn brown or black. The bare stalks may decompose Nettles are also a wonderful source of protein. Once they’re dry, they are much safer to handle since they lose the ability to sting. You’ll find that different remedies work for different people, so you may have to try a few to find what works for you. Hi Pamela. Yes, stinging nettles sting you, and it’s not that comfortable (especially if your legs are covered with the stings). The leaves, stems and roots can all be used but we’re going to focus on the leaves and stems. When you cook (or thoroughly dry) nettles the volatile compounds are destroyed or inactivated, and the sting disappears completely. 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