My friend C. does a medicinal herb gathering once a month through the Barn Raisers and this month among other things we talked about stinging nettles. Like lots of herbs that grow wild all over the place, it has a lot of uses. She has a ton in her garden and after learning all about how much of a panacea it is I got to go home with a big prickly pile of it in a bag.
Here you can see my cutting-edge way of dealing with the stinging problem: oversized flannel shirts are great for many things including the prevention of stings. What I’m doing here is preparing the nettles to be used in a stew. I’d already made a bunch of nettle-mint tea, which C. had made at her house as well – except hers featured local honey and goat milk. Let’s just say it was amazing.
Ooh look at the glass jars full of homemade rooting solution (steeped willow) and cuttings of fruit plants! Someday our orchard will take over the world and I will take baths in homemade jam. Maybe.
Anyway, the stew! When you cook nettles, the little stinging hairs lie flat and cease to be problematic. I sauteed them with garlic, asafoetida, coriander, and mochi curry powder – then dumped in water, Dr. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, some barley and most of one can of cheap beer. Finishing touch was a whole ton of potatoes that had grown soft and sprouted a ton of roots, plus some salt and pepper.
The finished product was savory and delicious. The potatoes were super soft and the nettles were nice. I’m really happy that I’ve reached a point where I can successfully improvise recipes. Call it a hippie soup, but it was greatly enjoyed by all present – including our new roommate R. who is new to the whole “Cooking with Moosewood” scene. Potato stew is a safe bet, I guess, no matter how weird the ingredients really are. Anyway, here we all are at a recent masquerade party:
This is how we always pose for pictures, pretty much.
And one last use for nettles: they’re traditionally used to treat joint pain and problems. Old timey folks keep a potted nettle next to the potted aloe plant in their kitchen, apparently: the aloe for burns and the nettle for arthritis and so on. I had to try this one out on my stupid wrist issue, which is mostly not a problem but acts up from time to time.
It blistered and stung, but did seem to help. You can blame the placebo effect if you want, I’m just happy it worked. And when I get that potted plant for my own kitchen, I’ll make sure to put a warning sign on it. Nettles can be therapeutic, but surprise stings are brutal!