Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Thoroughly Nettled...

Aunt Snow's latest post shows a picture of a lovely dinner that her son cooked. The last thing I cooked was a big pot full of delicious, nutritious stinging nettles. Every spring, I subsist largely on nettles- they grow profusely on a couple of my jobsites, so they are free and plentiful. Even better, they are packed with protein, and historically were a crucial post-winter food, bridging the lean period between the end of winter the the appearance of late spring's bounty.

To be entirely candid, I merely parboiled the nettles to neutralize the "sting" of their urticating formic acid-filled hairs. Now that they are parcooked, I will treat them in the same way I treat spinach. I can now use them to make nettle pesto, nettle soup, creamed nettles, nettle fritters, nettle pie, nettle omelets... thankfully, unlike this guy, I actually like the basic component of my spring diet. The nettles are good until their flowers develop, which in these parts typically occurs in late June- after that, phytoliths in the leaves can harm the kidneys. Given their ubiquity on-site, they'll be a major component of my meals for the next month and a half.

I am always happy to see the nettles appear on the property, though I believe I am the only one who feels this way- the wineberries receive a much warmer reception.

9 comments:

Vixen Strangely said...

I've never been able to enjoy nettles myself, all the benefits of nettles and the example of guru Milarepa aside. They have grown in my backyard where they proved a, uh, thorny problem to me. They stung through my rubberized canvass garden-gloves, which is no way to get on my good side. After that, I understood mentally that I could boil the sass out of them and eat them, but just couldn't. I figured they might make nice greens with bacon--nope, couldn't. So I was kind of glad when the lemon balm choked them out. Lemon balm & mint do, like, garden akido. They take root and patiently overcome.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Mint takes over everything. The Southrons should plant it to see if it can outcompete kudzu.

Kudzu's also edible.

Smut Clyde said...

The local Urtica ferox has neurotoxins as well as formic acid so I will forgo the culinary pleasures of nettles.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

S.C. has serious nettles, not like we got here!
~

mikey said...

Neurotoxins!

And here I'm stuck with blister agents...

Syrbal/Labrys said...

I love nettles, and I love an herbal grain free nettle beer. I keep hoping to get the males to help go a-harvesting and brewing here --- but we are all a bit knackered. So I'm not sure it will happen this year at all, I'm too worn out with work and recent illness to do it all little red hen-like on my own this year.

Aunt Snow said...

I've never had nettles, though I know my son would really be interested.

Here's an older post I had about pickled red onions:

http://doves2day.blogspot.com/2011/09/pink-saturday-pickled-red-onion.html

My son's recipe was slightly different, I think he used less sugar.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

The local Urtica ferox has neurotoxins as well as formic acid so I will forgo the culinary pleasures of nettles.

Ah, the Antipodes- Australia's got the deadly poisonous reptiles, arachnids, and a monotreme while New Zealand has the killer plants.

S.C. has serious nettles, not like we got here!

He also has an enticingly large forehead...

And here I'm stuck with blister agents...

Maybe he can send you some seeds...

I love nettles, and I love an herbal grain free nettle beer. I keep hoping to get the males to help go a-harvesting and brewing here --- but we are all a bit knackered. So I'm not sure it will happen this year at all, I'm too worn out with work and recent illness to do it all little red hen-like on my own this year.

I'm going to have to look into this... some mulberry wine would also be nice.

I've never had nettles, though I know my son would really be interested.

The nettles have a mild "green" flavor, without even a hint of bitterness. They do have a very substantial texture, though... more like kale than spinach, I'd say. Hmmmm... nettle chips?

Here's an older post I had about pickled red onions:

Thanks, Aunt Snow!

Smut Clyde said...

Nettle beer is tasty.