I’ve had a lot of nettle emails since I posted about them before, so I’m adding more info here.
The pickled nettles that I made a few weeks ago have turned out great. Now I’m in Alaska where nettles should be prevelant, but I still can’t find any. Good thing I’ve got a gallon jar of them pickled, and another gallon jar of them dried. I’ve never seen it listed as a nettle effect, and I’m not sure why, but eating four or five nettle leaves makes me feel really full for a long time. Maybe it stabilizes my generally low blood sugar.
When you go looking for nettles, look near the water in a dark, moist place. Nettles especially love to grow in the shade of barns and big old fallen trees. Bring your field guide (or printed out internet pictures) with you and be absolutely sure you’re picking the right thing. I don’t know of any poisonous nettle look alikes, especially that will sting you like nettles, but still… when in doubt, throw it out. Remember to wear gloves so you don’t get stung!
This website – http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Nettle.html – has excellent pictures and identification information.
Once you’ve picked your nettles you can cook them just like spinach. Add them to soups or stir-frys, or just cook up a mess of them on their own with some sesame seeds or flax seeds or meat or whatever.
If you’ve picked a lot of nettles and you want to preserve them, I recommend drying a winters supply. To dry nettles, just spread them out in a dark, dry place. I spread them out in a coupe old fed ex envelopes I got in the mail and leave them on my dash to be warmed and dried, but paper bags and cookie sheets and screens work just as well. Be creative, it’s fun. Once your nettles are dry, you can add them to soups and you can make infusions with them. To make a nettle infusion: put a good amount of the dried herb in a jar with a lid, fill with hot water, put the lid on and leave for at least four hours. I usually make my infusions at night and then drink them in the morning.
If you don’t want to dry them, pickling is yummy, too. Just put them in a jar, cover with vinegar, add a very liberal amount of salt, and then something to hold the nettles below vinegar level (anything works).
Besides being a super food, nettles nourish and strengthen your lungs and adrenals. They sooth and nourish your digestive system, and act as an expectorant when you’re congested. I rush to my nettle infusions whenever I get that itchy-eyed allergic-ness that happens to me in the midwest, and I feel better almost immediately.
I saw someone recently mention purifying their kidneys with nettles. We can all have different ideas about our bodies and our medicines, and this is my blog so I’m going to tell you my thoughts: If you’re looking for purification, go find one of those Gods that’ll hold you in his fire to burn out all your badness and forge you into one of his tools. Don’t look to earth based medicine for purification, because the earth is dirty and muddy and sensual and not at all pure and clean and white. Earth medicine is about nourishing your wholeness (holiness, even), and as a whole you are light and dark, you spiral up and down, just like the earth does. Even herbs that clean do so with an emphasis on wholeness – they are more likely to clean away the things covering your dysfunctions so that you have to deal with them than they are to clean away your dysfunctions. Did you know that your kidneys rebuild themselves, every single cell, in a month? Don’t worry about purifying them, just nourish them so that you can grow happy kidney cells today.