Part of my excitement for Spring can be attributed to my annual ritual of nettle harvesting. As I wander the woods around my home, I look to see if the nettles have reached the height of my knee (long before they flower) and are ready for picking. I also notice which patches invite my harvest…which resonate with a “yes” to being a part of my infusions for food and bodycare. (Yes, you’ll find nettles in most of the Sweet Sisters products I make :))
So, with hardy gloves on, I snap off the top portion of the stalk and leaves, leaving the bottom of the plant to grow. I loosely fill each paper grocery bag and place them in a cool area of my home to dry. (I also gather young nettle leaves to use fresh in my cooking and green smoothies.) Every day or so, I fluff the contents of the bags so that the nettles dry evenly. In a week or two, I can strip the leaves off the stalk and crumble them a bit to better fill the paper bags to use until next year’s harvest.
So why do I love nettles so much? Well… because they are so amazingly wonder-full for us inside and out! There’s so much that nettles can offer us if we are open to receive!
Did you know that nettles can:
- improve the appearance of your skin, making it clearer and healthier.
- make your eyes brighter, your hair shinier, and your blood clean and healthy.
- be used as a female tonic at all stages of a woman’s life.
- be a natural kidney and adrenal-gland tonic
- assist the body in the detoxification of chemicals and heavy metals
- reduce water retention (particularly helpful for PMS and menorrhagia, a condition where there is heavy menstrual flow in women).
- increase vitality in men with its natural testosterone booster.
- act as an anti-inflammatory, helping many of the symptoms related to arthritis and inflammation in general. (The leaves can even be made into a paste to be rubbed directly on painful areas of skin for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.)
- help slow bleeding of small cuts and wounds.
- help clear constricted bronchial and nasal passages.
- deliver magnesium components to ease muscle pain (helpful in cases of Fibromyalgia).
- ease hay fever and allergies with its natural antihistamines.
- act as a powerful analgesic and much safer than over-the-counter medicines.
- be used as a super food with its high levels of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and beta-carotene as well as vitamins A, C, D, and B complex.
Come join me in some healthy recipes:
Nettle Hair Rinse:
A nettle vinegar hair rinse is easy to make and can be used every time you wash your hair. Nettle has been used in haircare to help prevent dandruff, promote hair growth, protect the scalp as well as nourish and condition the hair, This rinse will provide your hair and scalp with all the benefits of nettle as well as the cleansing, pH balancing and softening effects of apple cider vinegar.
- About 2 cups boiling water, preferably distilled
- About 1 cup apple cider vinegar, preferably organic
- 3 tablespoons dried nettles (or 6 tablespoons chopped fresh nettles)
- Add a few tablespoons of rosemary and horsetail (shavegrass) if you have it (optional)
Pour the boiling water over the plant material and leave to brew for at least 15 minutes, overnight if possible. Strain off the liquid and add the apple cider vinegar. Pour into a plastic squirt bottle for use in the shower. (Also keep a 2 cup plastic cup in the shower to dilute the rinse before use.)
After shampooing and conditioning, add 1-2 tablespoons of this rinse to 1-2 cups water from your shower. Pour over your head, covering your scalp and hair and leave for a minute or two before rinsing well with warm water. That’s it! The vinegar smell will disappear after your hair has dried… promise!
Your hair will be stronger, shinier and softer after just one treatment, but remember, herbal treatments need to be used regularly over a period of time to benefit fully from their properties.
Nettle Infusion “Super Drink”:
This is an excerpt from Susan Weed’s website. I think she is THE authority on infusions, so have included her words below.
“An infusion is a large amount of herb brewed for a long time. Typically, one ounce by weight (about a cup by volume) of dried herb is placed in a quart jar which is then filled to the top with boiling water, tightly lidded and allowed to steep for 4-10 hours. After straining, a cup or more is consumed, and the remainder chilled to slow spoilage. Drinking 2-4 cups a day is usual. Since the minerals and other phytochemicals in nourishing herbs are made more accessible by drying, dried herbs are considered best for infusions.
I make my infusions at night before I go to bed and they are ready in the morning. I put my herb in my jar and my water in the pot, and the pot on the fire, then brush my teeth (or sweep the floor) until the kettle whistles. I pour the boiling water up to the rim of the jar, screw on a tight lid, turn off the stove and the light, and go to bed.
In the morning, I strain the plant material out, squeezing it well, and drink the liquid. I prefer it iced, unless the morning is frosty. I drink the quart of infusion within 36 hours or until it spoils. Then I use it to water my house plants, or pour it over my hair after washing as a final rinse which can be left on.
My favorite herbs for infusion are nettle, oatstraw, red clover, and comfrey leaf, but only one at a time. The tannins in red clover and comfrey make me pucker my lips, so I add a little mint, or bergamot, when I infuse them, just enough to flavor the brew slightly. A little salt in your infusion may make it taste better than honey will.”
It’s true that a nettle infusion kind of tastes like dirt…but in a good way. Despite its uncustomary taste, I feel so grounded when I drink an infusion. It is as if every cell in my body is being re-mineralized and re-vitalized. Give it a try 🙂
Potato + Nettle soup
The recipe below is from the Vegetarian Recipe club.
1 tbsp olive oil
130g/5oz young nettle leaves (fresh not dried)
1 large leek, peeled and chopped OR 4 large shallot OR a medium onion
2-3 tbsp dairy-free nut or hemp milk
Salt (optional) and black pepper
700g/1.5 Ibs (we used 350g/0.75lbs) potatoes, peeled and diced
900ml/1.75 pints pints vegan stock
Finely chopped parsley or watercress
1 In a large saucepan, saute the leek/shallots/onion in the oil.
2 Turn down heat and cover. Cook for 5 minutes until the onion is translucent but not brown.
3 Add a little stock if necessary to prevent sticking.
4 Add the potatoes, and cook, covered for 5-10 minutes.
5 Stir from time to time, adding a little stock to prevent sticking.
6 Stir in rest of stock and bring to the boil.
7 Cover pan and leave to simmer on a low heat for about 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.
8 About 5 minutes from the end, add the nettles.
9 Add non-dairy milk to soup and then blend thoroughly.
10 Season to taste.
11 Serve the soup hot in bowls, each with a swirl of yoghurt and herb garnish if using.
With 10% protein and all the minerals and vitamins, nettle makes for a wonder-full superfood!. In the Spring, any recipe that calls for something green has the potential to become a nettle recipe. You can make nettle lasagna with your favorite spinach lasagna recipe or nettle pesto with any basil pesto recipe, creamed nettle and spinach instead of just spinach or nettle–kale and fruit smoothie… you get the idea!
Happy Spring and Nettle-ing,