Wrap loosely in a towel and refrigerate inside a plastic bag for a week or so, but once you cook it, eat/drink it promptly.
“Stinging” Nettles are definitely challenging to collect in the woodlands, and caution must be used when preparing them. They’ll prick you, so you must wear gloves or use large tongs!
They are much sought-after by chefs for their unique, earthy/tingly greens taste, as well as for their medicinal qualities. A bonus: they remain a lovely, vibrant green when cooked! Beautiful!
Nettles need to be cooked before eaten. Trim off and discard any real large stems. Use as you would spinach, but do be sure to cook until very soft. Terrific in a stir-fry, risotto, on a pizza, in stew, or soup; nettles also make an awesome pesto.
If you like, mix with other cooked greens like kale, spinach, chard.
For me, the easiest nettle prep methods are:
Place them in a steam basket, and dunk into a boiling pot of water for about 2-3 minutes- until very soft; remove and dip in an ice bath, or run under very cold water. Drain thoroughly. Note: If using in a "measured" recipe, like a quiche, (where moisture content matters), gently press with the back of a large spoon, or squeeze in a towel, to remove excess moisture.
Saute for about 3-5 minutes, (until very soft), in a drizzle of olive oil.
Nettles are very popular consumed as tea, and are very rich in vitamin C and iron.
To make tea: combine 1 part nettles and 2 parts water (e.g. 1 c. nettles to 2 c. water) in a saucepan, bring to a near boil, then lower heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Strain liquid into cups, sweeten if desired, and enjoy hot or cold. Save the cooked leaves for use in soup, pesto, etc. (may need a little more cooking time).
Make tea stronger by adding less water and/or steeping longer.
A friend of mine makes a spectacular Irish Colcannon, (“enhanced” mashed potatoes), substituting the kale and green onions with nettles and ramp leaves/bulbs. Try your own variation of this by simply adding sautéed nettles and ramps to your mashed potatoes. It may just make you want to jig!
“Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavored butter that your mother used to make?
Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I’m to cry.
Oh, wasn’t it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.”
(Irish folk song)
Liz Talley, Urban Graze
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