Nettles

It’s almost too late for nettles, but luckily they’re still young and fresh thanks to the rather cold May we’ve had. I love nettles! I think it’s one of the most tasty vegetables we have, and for free, which isn’t a bad thing at all. In the 50s my grandmother grew nettles in her town garden. People thought she was a bit odd, but nowadays they’d think she was wise. This is super food! Lots of vitamins and minerals in these. There’s plenty in our back garden. I use rubber gloves for picking them. Later they will grow new smaller branches, that can also be used if the the insects haven’t eaten them first. There are many who think this is a fine vegetable.

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Nettles in water. I soak them in cold water for a few minutes, then I rinse.

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I boil them less than one minute, just so the colour turns bright green, which tells me most of the oxygen has gone, and they will preserve well and look gorgeous in my dishes. I put them in cold water for a couple of minutes, and then I press out as much moisture I can with my hands. There are several ways of preserving nettles depending on how you’re going to use them later. This works for me and I’ve done it for decades.

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The kitchen machine takes care of the chopping.

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I use small plastic bags for storage. You could also freeze them the size of ice cubes, and keep them in bigger bags. I take as much from the bag that I need for my soups, sauces, bread, pancakes etc. One little bag contains enough for 3-4 dishes in our household of two grown ups. I started with three liters of fresh nettles, and now I have six small plastic bags that I need to put in a place in the freezer where I can find them during the winter. That’s the hardest thing of all!

I’ll pick and preserve more nettles another day.

Oh yes, I’m well aware of the fibres in nettles! I’ve tried a couple of times to use our common stinging nettle in a yarn, but I don’t have the patience to do it properly. There’s a lot of work before you get even a few fibres from those stems. The fine cloth you can spin and weave is called “nättelduk” or “nettelduk” in Swedish, which tells that the Swedish work “nässla” is the same as the English “nettle”.

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9 comments

  1. TextileRanger

    I’m glad to hear they are too much trouble to get fiber from. We have some plants we call nettles here, I’m not sure if they are the same ones that people eat and that you read about in fairy tales, but I have always had a sort of feeling I should try to get fiber from them. But I can’t even walk through them without getting stung, and the ones we have here have thorns that go through gloves, so I really didn’t want to try. And now I know I don’t have to. 🙂

    • Barbro Heikinmatti

      What a relief! One thing less to fight with 🙂 A quick search on internet reveals there are lots of different nettles. Your nettle must be a quite nasty one. The stinging nettle we have in Scandinavia isn’t very kind either, but doesn’t sting through thick gloves.

  2. Marilyn F.

    Nothing like getting free nutrition in your own back yard! I picked some sorrel dock a couple weeks ago, boiled it and had it for dinner two nights. It had a wonderful taste. Have you tried dyeing with nettles?

    • Susan

      Great idea to freeze packets. I sent this on to neighbors as they use nettles in tea and soup have spun a lot of nettle fiber, some prepared in the states and some prepared in France. The latter would make a great ‘hair shirt’ 🙂 but the ones prepared in the states were quite easy to spin and work with. I used the yarn to weave with alternating with linen to make a purse.

      • Barbro Heikinmatti

        I wonder what nettle that is? Ramie? It’s really hard to harvest the fibers from the nettle we have here. Yes, nettles as tea can be delicious! Here’s a recipe: bring water to boil in a big kettle. Add the top leaves from nettles, soak in the hot water no longer than 20 seconds. Take them out, spread on a sheet or bath towel, let them dry. They have to be really dry before you store them in a dark glass jar. This method preserves the vitamins and minerals, and gives the nettles a lovely flavour.

        • Susan'

          No, this is NOT ramie! I got quite a surprise when I ordered something called nettles from a place in TX and these came from AU and it was sleek ramie. What I spun was very coarse and you can find pictures of Nepalese women spinning it.
          and this guy who spun/wove and sewed his clothes…I later found out he sent the fibers to Belgium to be processed.
          http://www.swicofil.com/products/016nettle.html

          • Barbro Heikinmatti

            That was interesting! The Himalayan nettle is bigger than the nettle we have in Scandinavia. There’s an ongoing discussion about nettle fibres in different spinning forums, I remember one from the 90s here in Finland, and today I saw it’s starting again in a Finnish group. Only a few months ago the Swedes where involved in a nettle discussion. But skills in getting spinable fibres from our stinging nettle are sparse. I’ll share your link in both groups!

    • Barbro Heikinmatti

      No, I haven’t dyed with nettles. Plant dying is just too much for me. I get exhausted by the thought of gathering all those plants, making a fire place, getting a kettle big enough, carrying the water buckets, and what with the mordants, and getting the dye bath free from VM so I can add the wool… I think I need something to calm me down, I already breathe too fast 😀

      • Marilyn F.

        Hahahaha. Luv your response. I too do not have time for natural dyeing. I did some many years ago when I was beginning spinning and had a farm. Perhaps when I retire I’ll find time? Perhaps not. I was thinking yesterday that I have a lot of dye pots and tools scattered here and there in a shed and a garage that I should organize and put all in one place. Hmmmm.

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