I love to forage for wild edibles. It gets me out in the woods and keeps me in touch with nature. So let's chat about nettles and give some pointers on how to safely find and forage for them and start cooking with them.
What are Stinging Nettles?
Stinging nettles are a wild edible found in most places in the United States. Nettles can be found in many places, including along roadsides, meadows, and fields. The leaves of stinging nettle plants have fine hairs that can sting if you touch them. People react differently to being stung by these hairs: some feel nothing, while others may get a burning or itching sensation.
If you want to harvest stinging nettles for food or medicine (or enjoy their beautiful purple flowers), here's what you need to know:
Where do I find stinging nettles?
They grow worldwide--in fact, there are over 100 species! Look for them growing along roadsides and in meadows and fields--they're usually green, but sometimes they turn red during winter when they go dormant.
Stinging Nettles have square stems with fine hairs on top, which will sting if touched by human skin, so make sure not to come in contact with any part of it unless necessary.
Do I need special tools/equipment before going out into nature looking for these plants?
No, all you need is some shade protection from direct sunlight since direct sun exposure causes dehydration which could lead to heat exhaustion later down the road when trying hard work outside, like harvesting fruits off trees.
When you are searching for nettles, it is crucial to avoid areas that have been recently disturbed. This can include areas where dogs or other animals have been roaming, as well as gardens and parks that are frequently mowed. You should also avoid picking nettles in the rain (they will be more likely to be contaminated with pesticides) and areas near roads or parking lots where cars may have sprayed them with chemicals.
When harvesting your fresh herbs like stinging nettle, always wear gloves! The hairs on stinging nettle plants contain formic acid, which can irritate if they come into contact with skin or eyes--so wear gloves when handling them!
Cooking with Nettles
Nettles are great in soups, as a pot herb, or made into tea. You can also add your nettle pesto to quiche or frittata. Finally, if you want something sweet, add nettles to your favorite pasta dish!
Stinging nettles are not only edible but delicious!
Stinging nettles are not only edible but delicious! They have a nutty, earthy flavor that can be used in place of spinach. They're also high in vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, and protein.
If you're interested in foraging for your own stinging nettles (and we hope you are), here's how:
- Look for young plants with leaves under two inches long; they should be bright green with no signs of wilting or yellowing.
- Use gloves when picking them so that you don't get stung! You can also wear long sleeves if you want extra protection against getting stung by accident--but this may make it harder to harvest the plant effectively without removing all its leaves at once...so maybe stick with gloves instead? Your call!