Nettles are a painful annoyance when you’re out and about in fields and forests, and make pickingÂ other plants quite tough, but did you knowÂ that in and of themselves, they are something of a super-food?
Nettles can be used to increase breast milk supply, eliminate dandruff, and is believed to have anti-anaemic, anti-diabetic, haemostatic and diuretic properties. Nettles lower glycemic levels by lowering blood sugar, so are good for diabetics, and are mildly diuretic, so help the spleen too.* Nettles apparently have the highest iron count of any edible plant.
Nettles are easy to identify â€“ and if in doubt, touch one. If it doesn’t sting it’s not nettle. When picking nettles, it’s advisable to have good gloves otherwise they sting right through normal gardening gloves. Once cooked they no longer sting.
Nettle tea, in other words, soaking chopped nettles in boiling water for a few minutes, is probably the best way to consume this plant while retaining its nutritional properties. However, a much more pleasant way is to use nettles in your cooking, by simply replacing other greens, such as kale or spinach, with nettles.
As I’ve had a miserable cold this week I’ve not been out foraging much, but I did go and find a patch of stinging nettles with which to make a soup in the hope of harnessing someÂ of the many vitamins and nutrients in nettles.
These are ingredients for three people, but honestly, thereÂ is no wrong way or amount. I added a lot of ginger and garlic since I’m cold-ridden, but adjust to taste.
- Nettles, about half a bag full
- 4 medium sized potatoes
- 1 onion
- Water, to cover
- Tablespoon of grated ginger
- 2Â cloves garlic, crushed
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Olive oil and/or butter
- Cream, to taste
Heat the olive oil and butter
Add the garlic and ginger.
Add the chopped onion and quartered potatoes and fry till the onion is softened and the potatoes are a little crispy.
Add the nettles and cover with water â€“ add a little more to allow for evaporation.
Cook until the potatoes are softened, then liquefy the mixture in a food processor or blender.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Swirl a few tablespoons of cream in the soup to thicken it a little, slice and butter some bread and enjoy.
Nutritious Nettle Soup
*Please remember that I’m not a doctor or nutritionist, and this does not constitute medical advice.
** Always follow the rules of foraging.