Stinging Nettles ~ a triumph over the weeds!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Our cold season is quickly approaching & one of the most notorious & common winter weeds we have here at Sunnyside is stinging nettles.  Stinging nettles grow everywhere that water goes in the garden (which is everywhere we want plants to grow) & so with great deliberation we have removed & removed & removed the stinging nettles each year (obtaining more than our fair share of stings in the process).  I am getting much better at removing them quickly & painlessly, but should we encounter them unaware  we have found that garlic rubbed onto the sting works wonderfully for waylaying the pain associated with touching this green plant.

Always in the far reaches of my mind I have known that although they are seen as weeds, stinging nettles are actually edible & are in fact very good for you ~ high in various vitamins, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, iron and sulphur.  I knew this, yet the thought of doing anything more than burning this pesky plant made me cringe. After all, how could I consider ingesting something that has caused me so much pain in the past.  So I disposed of that information & continued working against my garden nemesis.

 My change of heart began when I stumbled across a new DVD series at our local library ( we LOVE our library!!!)  We found the 'River Cottage' DVDs &  though we don't agree with everything (& always watch them with the children so we can skip just the occasional episode - thankfully they have a 'coming  up next ' in the previous episode), we have loved learning about living more sustainably & healthily (as well as seeing some beautiful parts of England).  We have been encouraged to continue the lifestyle we are slowly ( ever so slowly) building here at Sunnyside ~ that of growing & processing our own food and all it entails.  During one of the more recent episodes we watched they had a section on eating stinging nettles & it took our boys very little time to decide they just had to try them!!

They were quick in coming in with a plate full of the pesky plants & I agreed to blanch them to ensure they were fine for consumption ( I will say the video would be so much funnier if I had have missed this step, but hey ~ I'm a nice Mum!!!;)  After blanching I quickly emerged them in icy water.  They came out the most amazing green colour!!
Eli agreed to take his first test on camera...

I am not one to be left out, so I tried them as well....
Overall I will say that stinging nettles resembled silver-beet (swiss chard)  in taste.  They were flavourfull, although I think a little butter & seasoning added would have made them perfectly delicious.  They are a little frustrating to work with as you have to avoid the stings prior to cooking.  Since I have a lovely supply of silver- beet already growing here at Sunnyside, I think I'll stick to that, but it's always good to know about the edible foraging plants around the farm.

I just love that our children are taking the dream & running with it & weaving in their own ideas.  What a blessing it is to be able to farmstead our little piece of land as a family!!!

Have you tried stinging nettles?? 


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