We have a real passion for the humble stinging nettle (Urtica dioicra), it seems to represent everything that is wrong with modern attitudes towards the natural world. Being ‘common’ (i.e. incredibly successful without any help from human beings) it is unloved by the traditional gardener, who’s familiarity-fueled contempt has led them to brand this wonderful plant a ‘weed’ – a term of abuse which tells us more about the vanity of mankind than it does about the plant in question.
The truth, of course, is that the stinging nettle is an incredibly versatile plant. It is a breeding ground for some of our most beautiful insects; it is a wonderful source of vitamin C; it has medicinal qualities; it can be used to make rope, cloth & paper; it acts as an accelerator for compost; and last, but definitely not least, it makes good beer!
With this in mind we have decided to keep a ‘Nettle Diary’ which will talk about the plant and it’s uses as the year progresses. Spring is a good time to start, because spring is when the nettle is at it’s most delicious!
The young plants, which are only a few inches high during spring, are very succulent. For best results trim the top most leaves from the plant; these can be used in many ways including…
As A Vegetable – boil for 4 minutes and use like spinach
Nettle Soup – boil leaves for 10 minutes, strain leaves and make into a purée. Add chopped onions, potatoes, carrots, celery, swede, parsnip, vegetable bouillon (or veg stock cube), ground black pepper and mixed herbs to a pot of water and boil ‘em up.
Nettle Tea – take a handful of leaves and rub them gently to bruise them. Add to boiling water and wait 5 or 10 minutes depending on taste. Strain and drink hot, yum.
There are many more ways to consume nettles and we shall discus further recipes and other uses throughout the year. If you’d like to know more then contact us via info[at]permafuture[dot]com
Until next time,
The PermaFuture Team