Springtime young nettles are the best! Yes, when it comes to using nature to enhance our health and enjoying some delicious taste, there’s nothing better than nettle soup. Just pick the tips of the nettles and add stock/vegetables and simmer until all are tender; anything goes. Drinking nettle tea is another fabulous way to partake – recommended max of four cups per day. Just steep the leaves in hot water, drain and drink. What other ways might you think to use nettles?
At Orchard Barn we have lots of nettles and if they don’t end up in our soups or tea, they certainly help nourish our compost heaps. Sarah makes nettle liquid feed for the plants at OBee by steeping nettles in rainwater for the-longer-the-better, then draining the content to produce the liquid.
Urtica Dioica (stinging nettles) literally means ‘to burn’, and haven’t we all been stung by a nettle at some point? To which we grab a nearby dock leaf and rub like mad over the sting. Once cooked, however, they are safe to devour.
What do nettles offer? They contain nutrients for a start – A, B, C and K. They contain minerals – calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorous and sodium. And they contain fats, amino acids, polyphenols, and pigments like beta-carotene and carotenoids.
So, what are the benefits of these fiery plants? They may treat hay fever, may lower blood pressure by shedding excess salt, may aide blood sugar control, may protect your liver against toxins, and they may support wound/burn healing by applying a nettle cream (note I say ‘may’).
You do need to look out for potential side effects which come from handling nettles. You could inject yourself with histamine, serotonin or formic acid from the ‘hair’ of the nettle. These can cause rashes, hives or itchiness. (NB: pregnant women should avoid eating nettles as they may stimulate contractions.)
Always speak with your doctor if you are on medication before partaking of nettle glory. Of course any ideas in this article on the benefits of nettles are taken at your own risk!