The sting of raw nettles is definitely worse than its bite. Sure, you’ll want to protect your hands when handling raw nettles, but don’t be afraid of this fleeting, springtime flowering plant. A quick dunk in hot water (or any hot liquid) softens those stingers straightaway. And not only is nettle quite easy to cook (most anything you’d do with cooked spinach–which has a similar taste–can be made with nettle), it’s also incredibly nutritious and delicious in equal measure. Rich in vitamins A, C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium, in the peak of the season, nettle also purportedly contains up to 25% protein.* Some use histamine-rich nettle as a remedy for seasonal allergies, but most sources suggest using it in tincture form or freeze dried to get those benefits, which may be lost in the cooking process.
Nettle has long been a popular edible plant in Northern and Eastern Europe and in India. The English, Scottish and Czech even have a long tradition of making nettle beer (see recipe below). Visit Ray’s farm stand in May when he’s rich with the stuff. Here are some tasty nettle recipes to whet your appetite.
Nettle Soup (The Kitchn)
Stinging Nettles: 8 Recipes for Spring Cooking (The Kitchn)
Nettle Pasta (101cookbooks)
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Favorite Nettle Recipes (The Guardian)
Make your own nettle beer (selfsufficientish.com)