Let’s talk about Nettles. What’s in a name, a name such as stinging nettles makes me want to stay clear and far from this green bringers of poison, but let me tell you don’t…uh, judge a..plant, by its name. Nettles have received quite a bad rap, and understandable they ‘sting’ you, but they have been around the block a few times and have found their way into clothing production, pain relievers, food, bear, tea, and as a hair rinse to stimulate growth.
The sting of a nettle is due to little hairs of poison on the plant when they come into contact with the skin it feels like a mild bee sting or itchy and irritation. All good things in life come with a little bit of a struggle, nettles included. You can find nettles all over and often they are sold at farmers markets but if you know what you are looking for, put on your pants and your gloves and go get yourself some food. Oh, but the poison…don’t be alarmed, cooking or crushing them, neutralize the poison and they can even be eaten raw. If you are out in the field and come across some little nettles you can pick them close to the base and rub them vigorously between your hands and eat them as you harvest. They can be cooked like spinach or crushed into pesto. They are full of vitamins and all sorts of good stuff. If you think you have what it takes to scarf down stalks of nettles you can head over to Dorset for the world nettle eating championship.
Prior to about a week ago, the only relationship that I had with nettles was that they attacked me, one time, as I went hiking. I had heard about their deliciousness and health properties but that seemed insignificant, small and really, really scary considering, in my head, they were jerks wielding poison. I went over to visit an Armenian family, the mother was out in the yard picking nettles, with bare hands and a plastic bag. It didn’t seem so scary then and more like an adventure (maybe I need to get out more). We picked little baby nettles-they are dark green with a tinge of purple, and really easy to spot once you know what your looking for. The younger the nettles the better, they are more tasty and have less of a sting then their big brother or sisters. Nettles aren’t discriminative about where they are birthed, I was in someones backyard, littered with old metal parts and some garbage. Nettles, don’t care- they are a highly robust plant and can grow in a variety of settings, junkyard/backyards included. We picked the nettles and then put them into a pot of hot water for a few minutes and then they were added to a soup. They (the nettles) were delicious- the rice, potato, oil soup, that is another story. Afterwards my hand were itching like mad, due to the wrath of the nettle. There are a few natural remedies, that one can employ, including rubbing dock leaf on the skin ( I don’t know dock leaf is besides a leaf) and also saliva. So, I just licked my hands over and over again the rest of the day and, it worked. Was it sanitary or socially appropriate…maybe not.