Nettles should always be harvested before they bloom, preferably when they’re small. Which means beginning of summer is the best time for that. But if you cut them down, you can get fresh nettles all the summer, they grow back quickly. To avoid stinging, wear gloves and long sleeved shirt when you handle nettles.
Nettle is full of nutrients, tastes like spinach and it’s free. Nettle is filled with calcium and iron, but it can contain big amounts of nitrates too, especially if they grow in manure. That’s why you should never pick them behind stables or places like that. Pick your nettles from a clean place, and boil them for few minutes to get rid of the nitrates. After boiling the nettles won’t sting, which makes them easier to handle too. Both leaves and stalks are edible, but if the nettle isn’t very very small, the stalk can be hard. I usually use only the leaves and discard the stalks.
You can cook nettle the same way you cook spinach. We had some nettle crepes today.
We filled them with sautéed carrots, cabbage and chickpeas, and fresh tomato slices and basil. Other savory fillings would be good too, like mushroom salad or beans and grains. We didn’t eat the whole pile, so we’ll have them for dinner tomorrow too, but with other fillings.
2 l nettle leaves
water for boiling
1 l unflavoured soy (or oat) milk
6 dl wheat flour
OR 3 dl wheat flour and 3 dl barley flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil
margarine or oil for frying
Whisk milk and flour together and let sit about half an hour. Meanwhile rinse the nettles and boil them 3-4 minutes. Rinse with cold water and chop finely. Whisk chopped nettles, salt and oil to the milk and flour mix. Melt the margarine in a hot frying pan and scoop or pour a thin layer of batter on the pan. Ladle is handy for this. Flip the crepe when the top of crepe is dry and bottom is browned (lift the edge to peek the bottom), and fry until the other side is browned too. Fry the rest of the batter same way and serve with fillings of your choice.