Beyond Nettle Tea: Creative Ways to Incorporate Stinging Nettles into your Diet

Nettle omelette made with eggs, cheese, spring onion, bacon and blanched nettle leaves.
Close-up shot of stinging nettle leaves shows the spiky growth of the plant with hairs that cause discomfort when brushed against, for the forager's identification.
Stinging Nettles. Photo by Dids on

Discover the incredible health benefits of stinging nettle, from anti-inflammatory properties to high nutritional value.

Stinging nettle benefits are tremendous! A sore tongue or a swollen throat would not be beneficial at all, so it is necessary to blanch the nettles in boiling water first!

But wait around to find out why you should make nettles a regular part of your diet. When the shops run out of veggies, or exercise extortion on your enjoyment of but a few greens to eat with your reconstituted vegan steak, you’ll perhaps wish you had.

First stinging nettle benefit: this spiky leaved plant is so easy to identify- you don’t forget that childish stinging reprimand in a hurry! You can’t easily confuse it with another poisonous plant, so it’s relatively safe to forage this charitable crop. Mother Earth News.

The stinging nettle benefits us in nutritious dividends- their goodness is through the roof. On a recent foraging course, they informed me that people have survived off nettles alone- such perfection is in their design, and all for ours and the ladybird’s benefit! Medical News Today.

Taste is an individual experience, but they smell strongly of something slightly unpleasant, and when boiled, the resulting juice has a Bovril like flavour.

What A* health benefits are there to eating stinging nettles?

Anti-inflammatory- stinging nettles are an excellent antidote for arthritic pain, enlarged prostate, urine infections, hay-fever and high blood pressure. Reported to contain a plethora of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, they are known to have been used medicinally since at least ancient Greek times.

They are also a great antioxidant. My personal experience is that I feel like I have more energy after drinking nettle tea- no surprise, for this nettle brew is full of iron. Read more about the nutrition of nettles here.

Of course, some people may have an allergy to nettles or might suffer with seasonal hay-fever from the nettle pollen. Take care if you develop hives when picking them- then it’s probably a good idea to avoid eating them.

I get a rash if I touch the tomato plant and a tummy upset if I eat tomatoes raw, however nettles are my friends.

How to pick stinging nettles

Abundant supply of these often unwanted weeds means there is no lack of joy when searching out this food source. They are literally everywhere you don’t want them to be.

A gentle brush with them will lead to an annoying sting that sends you running for dock leaves to rub on the white raised lumps of burning skin, but to no avail, for dock leaves don’t remedy your agony.

The actual secret antidote lies within the stem of the nettle its self. Break the nettle stem open and squeeze out the liquid, which cools the dancing itch.

Gloves (the gardening kind) are a better antidote. In fact, they prevent any sting at all. On the foraging course, they taught us to take hold of a nettle leaf firmly, showing it no fear, and roll it and squeegee it into a wet pulp between bare fingers, so that you can directly pop it into your mouth and chew- with no stinging.

You see now, if you show fear and brush against it tentatively, it stings like hell.

New leaves are best- you can use scissors to snip off the smallest top leaves. These smaller light green leaves contain higher nutrition. The larger leaves are darker green and, although abundant, are hairy, tough and less appetising.

When to pick stinging nettles

Fresh growth of nettles begins in late February to March here in the North West of the UK. We found very few up the limestone hill known as Warton Crag at the end of February, but there were plenty beginning to sprout on the canal where we live.

Spring is the best season for nettle foraging, before they become seed in Summer to Autumn. The seeds are kind of furry. Imagine eating the contents on your Remington de Fuzz Away!

Freeze nettles, or freeze-dry, to preserve them. But I always like to eat them fresh for the best benefits. And since they grow in abundance most of the year, there is no shortage of supply.

Where to pick nettles

You can find nettles in most places. Avoidance of farm chemicals, pollution, and dog exercise areas is key. Farmers spray fields with chemical solutions, so you wouldn’t want to eat them from here for fear of contamination.

Busy roads and building sites make poor crops too, as many plants absorb the polluting chemicals. Nettles also enjoy a sprinkling of urine- in fact, they flourish in those dog watering holes, so take care where you pick. Unfortunately, dog foul peppers the canals.

Over harvesting from one area continually will destroy the natural habitat on which birds, insects and the likes depend upon. It wipes out crops and leaves you with nothing to pick in the future.

Digging up roots is often unlawful, as is the taking of many protected wild flowers. Only take a little herb from one area- you only need a small amount and these plants don’t keep for long.

The best stinging nettle benefits- Recipes

Nettle Soup

Most nettle soup recipes seem to be potato based, but vegetable soup with nettles is just as good as any nettle soup recipe. See here for this superb Spring green dish: Simply Recipes

Nettle Omelette

Add nettles to your favourite omelette recipe. Mix 3-4 eggs in an oiled frying pan. As they begin to solidify, just sprinkle in some blanched nettles along with grated cheese, bacon, and spring onions. Cook with a lid on for a few minutes, then flip the omelette in half to cook the top for a couple of minutes more.

Welsh Rarebit with Stinging Nettles

Welsh Rarebit is a mixture of egg and grated cheese on toast. Add nettles to make a healthy snack.
Welsh Rarebit. Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

First, make toast- it needs to be brown and crisp enough to withstand a wet egg mixture. Mix an egg with grated cheese and a little spring onion, or finely chopped onion. Add some pre-blanched nettles to the mix. Cover your toast with the mixture, to the very edges of the toast and grill until risen and golden brown.

Stinging Nettle Benefits #tea

After blanching the leaves in boiling water for a minute or two, pour the juice off into a cup. The result is a dark green nourishing hot drink full of nutrients and antioxidants. It tastes a bit like Bovril. Enjoy!

So, next time you’re out foraging for food, don’t forget about stinging nettles- this annoying spiky leaved plant just might surprise you with its many health benefits!

Other related posts:

Is Butter Bad for You?

Affordable Foraging Courses in North West UK- I recommend these foraging events for beginners. Click Here

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