No matter how interested anyone may be in cultivating their own herbs and spices at home, it’s rare to find anyone that takes much of an interest in nettle. And why would they, as for the majority of people their only exposure to nettle comes in the form of infuriating stings and rashes having gotten a little too up-close-and-personal with them.
In the kitchen however, nettles have the potential to be any green-fingered type’s best friend – they are every bit as versatile as any other herb out there. And they have the potential to be completely delicious too, so if you can persuade yourself to look a little further than those nasty stings for just a few moments, you might find there’s a slightly sweeter side to nettles you never knew about.
Seriously – next time you find yourself faced with a huge bush of the evil little buggers, give thought to knocking up one of the following:
The classic among classics, nettle soup not only tastes awesome but also happens to be one of the healthiest green goodies you will ever come across. Jam-packed with iron and Vitamin C, it’s simply a case of boiling up a bunch of leaves with your favorite added herbs and vegetables to come up with something unforgettable. And just in case you wondered, the answer is yes – you’ll need some pretty solid gloves to handle the leaves and no – the soup won’t sting you!
The long and short of this one is that if you like spinach, you’ll like nettles. There’s nothing complicated about it whatsoever – simply grab yourself a bunch of leaves and either stir fry or steam them for just a few minutes to whip up something every bit as tasty as spinach but considerably less expensive/totally free of charge.
You can buy the stuff in every decent store and supermarket right now, but more often than not the kind of nettle tea on sale commercially has been robbed of the majority of its goodness. Not only that, but there’s really no sense in paying good money for something that you could knock up a far better version of at home for pretty much nothing at all. Homemade nettle tea has the potential to help with a thousand and one health complaints, ranging from skin problems to high blood pressure to arthritis and so many more.
Or if tea doesn’t happen to be your thing, why not look up a recipe for a simple yet an outstandingly delicious nettle beer that’s easy to make and with little to no ingredients or equipment required? All the goodness of these little green wonder-leaves and all the satisfaction of a good beer – it’s a pretty pleasing combination.
Another way in which nettles have the very real potential to become your new best friend is in the form of a powerful aphid deterrent. There’s really no myth or magic to the way it works – it’s simply a case of these tiny pests liking nettle above and beyond most other plants. So instead of having them feast on your tomatoes for example, strategically place a few nettle plants nearby to distract them.
Another great way of making the most of the nettles around your garden is to chop a bunch of leaves up and add them to your compost bin. This will speed up the decomposition process and help create the most powerful and effective compost possible.
Last but not least, a variant of nettle tea has the potential to be extremely effective as DIY organic feed for certain plants. Arm yourself with a simple recipe (there are hundreds online) and use what you already have to help cultivate and develop what it is you want.