I have a love - hate relationship with stinging nettles. I was stung many times in my youth. This green plant looks like an innocuous hairy weed with small flowers. However, formic acid covers the tiny hairs on this plant — if you touch it, you will get a nasty surprise! Your skin will start stinging for hours or even days. Rubbing mint, sage or rosemary leaves on the sting will help relieve some of the pain. Despite its sting, this plant edible and is highly versatile and nutritious. In Dorset, England they have a stinging nettles eating competition. The person who eats the most leaves (while washing it down with beer) wins. Most people cook or juice nettles before eating, which helps to alleviate the stinging sensation. Once you crush the leaves, it disables the stinging sensation. Nettles can be used in any recipe that calls for spinach or kale. The leaves will add a nice mild nutty flavor to any dish.
The fibers of the stinging nettle plant were used to make clothing and other wearable items during WWII era. Nettles were one of the main ingredients in English beer, only more recently to be replaced by the more popular “hops.” Nettle leaves are good for making a green dye. Washing your hair with nettles also helps cure dandruff. One of the most common uses of nettles is to make it into a tea. The nettle root is known to be a diuretic.
Nettles are rich in vitamins A, C, D, and K, calcium, magnesium, flavonoids, serotonin, and histamines.
How to select: Four Sisters Farm carries stinging nettles. Whatever you do — do NOT pick up with your bare hands! They have tongs available for picking up nettles, or ask the farmer to assist you.
How to Store: Store in your fridge like you would do fresh spinach, until ready to use. Make sure you use gloves or tongs while handling. Most people tend to dry this plant and leaves for future use.