The Summer season is well and truly underway here at Nøsen. The sun is shining, the lake is shimmering and the shrubs have shot up creating a lush oasis. And with this eruption of life, comes an eruption of new flavors in our kitchen!
There is a bounteous array of edible delights to be found growing naturally around our mountain lodge, but today I’m going to focus in on a “weed” you may have been overlooking all over Europe. In fact you may have even actively sought them out, to remove them entirely. This tragically disregarded plant is the Common Stinging Nettle, also known as Urtica dioica, and it is both delicious and healthy!
Some plants are weeds, but these are just naturally nurtured seeds.
Nettles fall firmly in the latter category, so “thank you Nature!” When cooked they become a fantastic sauce of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, protein and iron, and have a wonderful fresh, spinach-like taste. When enjoyed as a tea they have also been shown to ease hay fever, reduce joint pain, and act as a mild diuretic, which can help manage a urinary tract infection.
Harvesting Nettles 101
- First and foremost: wear gloves! As scrumptious as they may be, they still sting.
- Early in the season is best, before they flower and become bitter.
- Pick the fresh tips of the plant, as they taste the best.
- Avoid the ones growing close to a busy path or road, as car fumes and dog “territory-marking” aren’t so tasty.
Nettle Prep and Storage
We like to soak the nettles in water first, to remove any dirt and stow-away bugs. They can then be dried, boxed up and kept in the fridge for 5 days.
Simple, healthy and delightful, nettle tea is a warming and easy beverage to make. You can simply steep the leaves in hot water. However, we enjoy combining nettles with spices for some added depth. Here is a Nøsen favourite:
- 500 ml of boiling water
- 1 tsp Fennel Seeds
- 2 Star Anise
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 1 handful of washed nettles
- Simmer the spices in a pan of boiling water for around 30 minutes.
- Pour the spiced water into a tea pot containing the washed nettles.
- Let the leaves steep for 5 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy.
Nettle & Hazelnut Pesto
This recipe came from our volunteer Rike and is heavenly. It always goes down a storm with guests and staff alike.
- Lots of nettles (we had filled a 5 liter tub)
- A generous handful of roasted hazelnuts
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Parsley (optional)
- Blanch the nettles in hot water for 90 seconds.
- Transfer to a blender, along with the nuts and oil.
- Blend to your desired textured, adding more oil if you want it looser.
- Sometimes Rike likes to add other herbs that we have growing in the kitchen, such as parsley, but nettles on their own is more than enough flavour.
- Season to taste.
- Serve on toast, with pasta, vegetables for roasting, on salads... anything you want to be tasty!
Let us know if you feel inspired to transform your relationship with Stinging Nettles and give these recipes a go!