Our neighbor emailed me exclaiming how good they taste, so I made a mental note to try and find some. Much easier than I thought; we live way out in the hills so as it turns out they grow wild all around us and all over our property. They popped up but the cold weather and minimal sun kept them pretty small. A few days ago we got two nice sunny days in a row so I went out to conquer the nettles!
My nettle picking technique was to have a glove on one hand and scissors in the other. I gently grabbed the top of each nettle, cut them off under the top couple sets of leaves, and dropped them into a paper bag. I collected one large paper bag full of nettles and went back to the house to process. I placed the nettles into a large colander and using tongs rinsed them well. That batch I blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes and then shocked in a bowl of ice water. Once cold, I squeezed out all the excess water and spread them out on a cookie sheet to freeze. To store in the freezer I placed them in a large plastic ziplock baggie. I made pesto with them the next day:
Stinging Nettle Pesto~
2 cups blanched stinging nettles
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
1/4 cup feta
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
Sea salt and pepper
Place ingredients, minus the cheese, into a food processor. Pulse until blended and proper consistency is reached. Transfer to a bowl and stir in cheese, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Nettle tea is springtime’s natural elixir. One of the earliest green plants to emerge each spring, nettles can be easily brewed into a tea which has healthful, restorative benefits which boost the immune system and awaken the body to spring.
Simply add water to your collected nettle leaves and heat to a near boil. Use about two cups of water for a cup of leaves; there’s no need to measure. You can make the tea stronger by steeping longer, or weaker by adding more water. Once the water is near boiling, reduce heat and simmer for a couple minutes. Pour through a small strainer and the tea is ready to drink. Some people prefer a small bit of sugar added to the tea, but I find the taste is just fine without any additives.
I’m so excited with how good the nettles are, I’m planning on gathering and experimenting with them some more!