Stinging nettles are wild green plants that can be very useful in the kitchen in an off-the-grid household. Although the nettles were the source of many cuts and scrapes during my childhood, they are definitely worth growing and utilizing for natural remedies.
The stinging nettles grow in the wild virtually everywhere in the world and can easily be found during a hike in the woods or along the roadside. The primary nutritional value the plant is often heralded for is its fiber and calcium content. Strong bones are never more important than when increased hours of manual labor are necessary to work a homestead – or when you can’t call a doctor.
The “weed” is also regarded as useful for urinary tract infections, skin treatments, seasonal allergy relief and kidney infections. Stinging nettles, when incorporated into your regular weekly food menu, will not only add extra fiber or calcium to the family’s diet, but reduce the grocery store bill as well. The wild plant is high in essential fatty acids, vitamin C and B complex vitamins, as well as iron, magnesium, potassium, iodine and silica.
Other stinging nettles uses:
- Put stinging nettles into the compost pile to speed up processing and help the waste “cook” more quickly.
- Some farmers feed nettles to their cows to increase milk production.
- WebMD notes that stinging nettle root is used to treat urination problems related to an enlarged prostate.
- The root is also widely used as a diuretic and rubbed onto joints to ease stiffness.
- Cook the nettles leaves and eat them as you would any other vegetable. They’re an excellent addition to any salad.
- Adding cooked nettles to chicken feed has also been known to increase egg production.
- Make soup stock with stinging nettles by pouring the tea from blanching into ice cube trays and freezing until needed.
- Eat recipes made with stinging nettles or drink the tea to control excessive menstruation or to prevent gout.
- Make a green smoothie by blending 1 cup of finely chopped nettles leaves with 1 cup of almond milk, 4 strawberries and 1 banana.
How To Use Stinging Nettles
After enjoying a walk along a country road or in the woods to pick a grocery bag or two full of the stinging nettles, rinse them in a bowl of cold water. Some folks add distilled white vinegar to the cleansing bath to make sure any animal waste has been washed away thoroughly. Use metal tongs or rubber gloves when picking and handling the nettles to avoid injuries to the hands – death by a thousand paper cuts will come to mind quickly if you do not follow this sage advice.
Blanch the nettles in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes until the wild plants become limp – once boiled they can no longer sting you. When lifting the nettles out of the cook pot, press them against the sides of the pot gently to remove excess water if you are not planning on putting them into a blender for a recipe. Chop the nettles up like you would lettuce or broccoli after they have dried for at least five minutes in a strainer or on a clean dish towel.
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Stinging Nettles Dip
The And Here We Are website offers an excellent recipe for stinging nettles dip.
- 1 cup of blanched stinging nettles
- 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil
- 1 clove of fresh garlic or a few wild garlic leaves or 5 cloves of roasted garlic
- ¼ cup of fresh mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- ¾ cup of Greek yogurt
- A dash of cayenne pepper
- Blend the stinging nettles until roughly chopped inside a blender or food processor.
- Add all of the other ingredients and blend until smooth.
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Stinging Nettles Tea and Beer
The water left in the mixing pot after the blanching can be used as a tea to simply sip upon or be used to aid common minor ailments and skin issues. Tea made from stinging nettles will reportedly increase a nursing mother’s milk supply, help heal throat infections and mouth sores when gargled, can be used as a facial skin tone to reduce breakouts, and even heal eczema. The tea also can be rinsed through the hair to make it more shiny and healthy. It even can be poured into a bath like Epsom salts to soothe aches and pains, strengthen finger nails when dipped into the liquid, and some have used the mixture as a liquid multivitamin.
Nettles Beer Ingredients
- To make stinging nettles beer, try to avoid collecting the bottom layer of leaves – the ones on top are the freshest. Use two pounds of nettles to make a standard batch of beer.
- 1 pound of refined white cane sugar.
- 1 extra large dandelion root.
- 1 tablespoon of either dried or powered ginger.
- ½ teaspoon of citric acid.
- 1 sachet of wine yeast compound.
- Boil the dandelion root in a gallon of water with the two pounds of nettles leaves. This can be done in halves if the cook pot is not large enough.
- Strain the liquid into a fermentation container.
- Add a heaping spoonful of powdered ginger and a ½ teaspoon of either the citric acid or squeezings from a fresh lemon.
- Let the mixture cool to at least 90 degrees.
- Once cool, sprinkle the dry yeast compound over the mixture. As the yeast grows it will convert the sugar already added into ethanol – alcohol. The brown foam on the surface is the process working. Once this step is complete, the foam will sink into the mixture.
- Once the fermentation process is complete add ½ a teaspoon of sugar to the nettles beer after it has been poured into pint bottles. Do not drink the beer until the liquid in the bottle looks clear.
Stinging nettles offer dozens of off-the-grid uses. Know of others? Let us know in the comments below.