Austere and magnificent Queen Nettle enthrones our backyards and wild patches during spring. 

When you get passed it, Queen Nettle almost seems screaming: “Pay attention to me or you will regret it!”

…And man! We should really pay more attention to it! 

Not only because it stings, but even in this age of imported exotic miracle herbs, nettle still remains the real champion for improving health. 

But did you know it can be used also for beauty, household and clothing? And that many people around the world beat themselves with it to get relief from arthritis? 

Nettle is without any doubts a plant full of surprises! Join me today and come meet your majesty Queen Nettle! But watch your manners, she bites!

For recipes, just scroll down…

Getting to know Stinging Nettle alias Urtica Dioica

Many of us have learned how to identify Nettle the hard way, probably when still very young. At least I did, when I was just a little girl (in shorts) and I had to fetch the ball in a nettle bush. About that experience, I will just say that identifying nettle has not been an issue anymore from that point on. 

Seeding nettle at the sunset

Nettle’s nutrient-dense qualities, as well as myriad of other beneficial constituents, make it indeed a powerful ally for a variety of health challenges and its versatility makes it so easy to use daily. 

How? Hear me now… if you wanted to, you would be able to use nettle in any, I mean ANY ASPECT of your life…and I do not mean only in your kitchen! 

For health? Hell yes! 

For beauty? Sure thing! 

For household? Definitely! What else? 

Just name it! Garden pests, clothing (yes, clothes made of nettle are more resistant than linen), and who knows how many other applications are to come. 

“If I had to pick just one herb forever, I would pick nettle.It is relentless in its pursuit of our attention, even willing to bite.An ally in every way, offering wellness to us all.”

Christina Kuske, herbalist 
Spring nettle

Even though nettle is one of the first herb you can think of when talking about eatable weeds, I have to admit that I feared a bit the time I had to write about nettle because the knowledge and the application are so vast that even trying to summarize them in a bullet list was too overwhelming. I decided so to get the essence of them giving a general overview on benefits and uses of nettle, not forgetting tips and fun facts about the same. 

Nettle for health care:

Nettle is a nourishing herbal food, which among many nutrients is rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, protein. Nettle’s greens help to build healthy blood, but also fight insulin resistance in diabetes type II.

It is also an effective ally for bones, joints and skin. It is an everyday nourisher and an excellent remedy for anemia, low blood pressure, and general weakness. 

Herbal medicine making

Leaves and stalks work as tonic for kidney and for the digestive tract. Nettle root is a very good urinary system supporter; it increases excretion of uric acid and help with rheumatism and gout. 

Nettle can also be used as an anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic aid, making it useful for respiratory allergies, asthma, and skin problems. 

Women have used nettle, especially the root, for centuries as hair and skin nourisher, as scalp purifier and hair strengthener. 

“I myself rub this tincture [of Nettle root] into the scalp daily; I even take it with me on trips. It is worth the effort; no dandruff, and the hair is thick and soft with a beautiful sheen…” 

Maria Treben (1982), from Wise Women, Susan Weed 

Nettle seeds can slow, halt, or even partially reverse progressive renal failure. Studies have shown the root to improve benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) symptoms in 81% of man taking the herb (compared to the 16% improved with the placebo group).

Nettle illustration from “Foraging and feasting” by Dina Falconi

Interesting studies have shown nettle to be effective in reducing pain. The application was known already in the 17thcentury but only recently, the mechanism was scientifically determined, explaining why the urtication provoked by the formic acid can reduce musculoskeletal pain. 

I have personally seen people with arthritis beating themselves with nettles, and firmly assert that it was totally worth it. Well… it sounds very harsh to me too, but researchers have taken this practice to the lab and shown beneficial results using fresh nettle for knee and thumb pain.

Maybe some of you want to give it a try?

Nettle in the kitchen

Wild fresh nettle can be carefully harvested in the spring when the leaves are still young and tender. Because the leaves are lined with stinging hairs, they need to be cooked prior to eating. 

Nettle in the kitchen

Dry nettle can also be easily used in recipes. The recipes with nettle are almost endless. The gentle taste makes it very appealing for most palates. 

However, many people prefer not to harvest it because of the stinging risk. One good tip is of course using gloves and always having baking powder with you. Baking powder or sodium bicarbonate will neutralize the formic acid from nettle leaves, giving instant relief from the stinging sensation. 

Nettle recipes have always existed. We have evidence that medieval monasteries made great use of nettle, not only in their cookbooks, but also in household manuscripts. 

It was indeed used for clothing, pure or in blends with cotton or hemp. 

Textile blend of nettle and cotton

The water infusion was utilized for fighting plant aphids or in soaps and vinegars, used to wash clothes and clean the house. 

Now a days Nettle use is restricted to tea blends, and few beauty products while the culinary use is slowly getting back…it is now more and more common to find nettle in soups and gourmet dishes and who knows: maybe soon enough somebody will be open to sell it on the big food market.

But now, the weekly recipes. 

Choosing the recipes this week has not been trivial… I have a huge number of recipes: some of them invented, some of them read in some book or online. 

Among them I decided to share what I thought I enjoyed the most throughout the years, but I have to admit that in this case, the combinations are endless and the only limit are dictated by our own imagination. 

However, the first recipe is an old Italian recipe read on a Medieval cookbook. 

Old Italian monastery cookbook

It tastes lovely and it is a very appealing way to offer nettle to the family without them noticing you are actually serving your backyard weeds for dinner.

Risotto with Nettle and Beer (serves 6 people):

  • 400 g of nettle (young leaves and stalks)
  • 400 g of risotto rice     
  • 1 leek
  • 200 ml of beer
  • Vegetable broth (as much as needed, around 500 ml)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Wash and boil nettle for five minutes in salty water, then drain the water and chop it. Chop finely the leek and fry in the olive oil until translucent. Then add the rice and roast it for few minutes. Then add the beer and let it evaporate. Salt, pepper to taste and add the broth in small portion until the rice is almost cooked. Few minutes before the rice is cooked add nettle and let the rice rest for five to ten minutes. Serve with parmesan on top. 

The second recipe is a delicious blend of spices originally coming from Egypt that you can make from dry nettle, which you can buy in any health shop here in Denmark. I usually combined with olive oil until it forms a paste, which can be used as spread on bread, meat, eggs or veggies. 

It is called Nettle Dukkah (240 g):

  • 120 g of hazelnuts
  • 2 Tbs sesame seeds
  • 40 g of whole cumin seeds
  • 60 g of dried nettle leaves
  • 30 g of dried parsley leaves
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste

Toast the hazelnuts in a pan (around 20 minutes), and then the sesame seeds (around 5 minutes) and last the coriander and the cumin (2-3 minutes). In a food processor combine all the ingredients and enjoy. 

Foraging nettle last April

I am curious to know now, what is your favourite nettle recipe? 

Have you ever used it in your kitchen?

Looking forward to hearing from you, 

Green blessings, 

Beatrice

Did you like the article, then follow my Instagram page The herbal geek. Every week new recipes and updates. 


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