Nettle Season

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If green garlic is always the first thing that I harvest in spring, nettles are always the second. When I moved to New Mexico I couldn’t find any and couldn’t get seeds to germinate, so I was reduced to calling an herb nursery and begging them to dig up some nettles on their property and sell them to me. Every spring I’m glad that I did. Gather the tender tops with as little stem as possible, wearing leather garden gloves. Don’t handle them without gloves, no matter what you read on the Internet. I always manage to pick up a sting on my wrist just above the glove, but it hasn’t killed me yet. Wash in a big bowl of water, stirring them with a wooden spoon. Drain and dump them into lightly salted boiling water. Boil for two minutes and drain. They are now rendered weaponless: the venom (formic acid) has been denatured by heat and the zillions of fine spines that do such a good job of injecting the venom into your skin are soft. Squeeze the drained greens dry, chop them up to eliminate any stringiness in the stems, and finish cooking them any way you like. They are awfully good just braised in cream with a bit of sautéed green garlic and finished with butter and a little salt. You can click on the “greens” category of this blog for some other ideas. They are a mild-flavored green and can be used any way that you use spinach, although the flavor is a little different; “wilder” is the best way I can describe it. They are ultra-nutritious and worthy of a place on your spring menu. They are even…gulp…worth buying plants of if you don’t have them naturally.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. I have nettle plants for sale that I did from my own garden. I like them 2 inches tall and sweet in the early Spring then steamed and served with garlic and olive oil over wild rice. They are hight in protein(19 to 21 %) and high in iron tasting like lobster tail to me!

    Reply

    • Posted by wooddogs3 on November 11, 2016 at 10:40 pm

      Hi Lloyd! For those who don’t know Lloyd, he is our local fig man, and can be found at the farmers markets selling heritage figs that he reproduces from old trees all around Albuquerque. He also has a lot of other interesting plants adapted to our area. Lloyd, I had no idea that you sold nettles. I can’t tell you how much trouble I went to to get hold of my first nettle plants many years ago. Please do post what markets you can be found at, so that those seeking nettles and other goodies know where to find you.

      Reply

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