There’s likely no other wild plant that marks the beginning of spring growth than the wild nettle, urtica. Urtica is a forest superfood, full of vitamins and health benefits that can alleviate allergies, dry scalps and skin, and a long list of diseases that I’ll simply link you to here since Mother Earth News has it covered.
We all know that nettles come with an unpleasant sting if you brush up against the leaves. But with some care, a.k.a gloves and tongs, you can harvest wild nettles, steam them (this removes the sting in about 6 seconds), and have the foundation for one of the most nutritious greens you’ll ever have in your kitchen. Go forth and harvest these stingers, dry them or steam them up, puree them, bake them, or just put them in jars in your freezer for future use in the recipes I’ve collected below.
1) Drying Nettles and the Basics: For starters, I want to link you to this great article on how to safely forage for nettles and also dry and store them. I’m a big believer in using all the naturally-edible natively-growing greens around you, rather than going to the store and buying greens grown elsewhere.
2) Nettle Beer: From what I’ve read, this is more like a wine. Easy to make, and quite tasty.
3) Nettle Chips: Move over kale! It’s time for us to embrace stinging nettle chips. These. Are. To. Die. For. (And I promise, you won’t die, you’ll just want more.)
4) Stinging Nettle Fritters: These look incredibly delicious. I don’t have to say much more.
5) Stinging Nettle Mayonnaise: Want to add a bit of zing to your mayo? This is a recipe worth trying.
7) Black Strap Nettle Syrup: This ought to cure what ails you, yet another recipe that I know will come in handy for my family as we grow ever-closer to living off our land.
8) Wild Nettle Mini-Cakes With Strawberry Lemon Icing: If the name of this recipe doesn’t have your mouth watering, just check out the photos from this beautiful blog.
9) Nettle Recipes For Hair, Skin, & Nails: If you’re looking for a deep infusion of green to help bring you back into balance while providing nutrients for your hair, skin, and nails? This article is for you.
10) Portable Allergy Tonic: Have troubles with seasonal allergies? This tonic promises relief.
12) Nettle and Lemon Cake with Blackberries and Lemon Icing: If you’re planning a birthday party for a child, this might be a great way to sneak in some greens! The lemon icing adds just the right zing to match the nettle color.
13) Wild Onion and Nettle Soup: We make this every spring and freeze as much as we can. This soup is just about as close as you’ll ever come to “drinking spring.”
14) Fermented Nettle Tea: If you’re into all things fermented, why not nettles? Kombucha, move over!
15) Lentil and Nettle Curry: Seeing as Nepal is covered with nettles in spring, this dhal curry with nettles didn’t surprise me.
16) Pizza with Garlic Cream and Nettles: OMG, you guys! This is so delectable, you have to try it. Just replace your hankering for basil with nettles here and you’ll want to repeat this recipe every week. I now freeze our excess-harvested nettles so we can have this all year round.
17) Nettle Crisps: Ok, so these are the same as the nettle chips, but it doesn’t hurt to try a slightly different recipe.
18) Nettlekopita: My friend, Rebecca, who is an amazing cook, makes this every spring and so I know it’s delicious. I just need to get over my sense that it’s time-consuming to make, because it doesn’t look like it from this recipe. My husband is Greek and I’d love to try this out on him.
19) Wild Nettle Beer: I couldn’t resist linking you to another great recipe for a nettle home brew. This one was so well thought-out, I think a novice could make it.
20) Nettle Wine: I’m calling this one wine because, reportedly, it tastes more like wine. I love this article as it really spells things out clearly.
On a final note, I wanted to link you to a fascinating article, now that you’ve immersed yourself in mouth-watering nettlemania. It appears nettles have been used for millennia. Around 800 BC, nettles were used to make a silk-like fabric. Like flax, nettles were employed for their strong fibers for use in cloth-making. What uses have you come up with for this underdog wild stinging plant? We’re in awe of its properties and many uses, and excited to learn more about this superfood’s talents. Share what you know, and we’ll add it to the list.