Over the past couple of years, I have unintentionally grown a pretty nice little stinging nettle garden on the border of my rhubarb garden. The young nettles are starting to come up now, so it is time to start harvesting them when they are in their prime.
So, what do you do with stinging nettles?
In a previous post, we talked about the benefits of nettle tea, but there is so much more than you can do with nettles.
Warning: Always wear gloves when handling raw nettles. Drying or cooking nettles will neutralize their sting. Blending them also breaks down the stinging.
I made pesto before, but the price of pine nuts and the staggering amount of basil (which I don’t usually have on hand) discouraged me from making it again. Nettle pesto to the rescue! I have plenty of nettles which can be used in place of the basil, and I have found that pretty much any nut can be used into place of pine nuts (walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, etc.). Plus, you can freeze pesto, so I don’t have to rely on fresh nettles.
If you want to go nettle crazy, you can toss your pesto into some nettle pasta! Nettle pasta is pretty much just nettles, flour, and water, but you can also add eggs. Nettles can be fresh, frozen, or even dried for use in making pasta.
You can also throw some raw nettles into your breakfast smoothie. Just make sure to blend it really well because blending will help break down the cell walls which make it sting.
I am planning to make some nettle oil this week. You simply fill a jar with nettles and cover with olive or coconut oil. Let it set in a sunny place for 3 weeks, then strain and store in a dark container. You can use the oil, along with a carrier oil, to help with skin issues and arthritis.
You can make an easy nettle infused soap by making hot process aloe vera soap in a crock pot and adding 1/2 Tablespoon of dried nettles before pouring it into the mold.
Have fun finding wonderful new ways to use the stinging nettle, and make sure you wear gloves when harvesting!