Stinging Nettle Leaves
Inventory, lb : 0
This item was last sold on : 05/12/23
Stinging Nettles are small to medium in size and are ovate or lanceolate in shape, averaging 3-15 centimeters in length. The dark green leaves form in opposing pairs and have widely-toothed edges, coarse veins, and the edges taper into a slight point. Stiff, tiny hairs, known as trichomes, also cover the leaves and the thick, rigid square stems. Once the hairs are removed from the plant, it can be consumed. Stinging Nettle leaves are tender, mild, and have a green flavor similar to spinach.
Stinging Nettles are available year-round, with peak season in the spring and early summer.
Stinging Nettles, botanically classified as Urtica dioica, are in the Urtucaceae family, whose name comes from the Latin uro meaning, to burn, and is classified as an herb but is used more like a vegetable. Also known as the Common Nettle, Roman Nettle, or California Nettle, Stinging Nettles are most often considered a common weed and are known for the irritating little hairs that cover the leaves, earning its stinging title. If handled, the tips of the tiny hairs break off and become needle-like protrusions that exude histamine and acetylcholine that can cause an itching sensation along with redness, swelling, and numbness. Despite the itchy reputation, they have also been used since ancient times for medicinal, culinary, and textile purposes. Stinging Nettles were even used to make cloth, rope, and fishing nets during World War I in Germany and Austria.
Stinging Nettles are nutrient-rich with vitamins A, B2, C, and K, as well as minerals like potassium, folate, calcium, and iron. The plant is also high in chlorophyll, which is a green pigment related to the plant’s photosynthesis but is also beneficial for good health. Chlorophyll can help control hunger, encourage healing, and cleanse the body of toxins. It is also effective in relieving swelling and redness, promoting healthy iron levels, and contains high amounts of antioxidants.
Stinging Nettles should be handled with care using thick gloves or tongs. They should be washed well in a colander under cool running water to remove dirt build-up and to remove the small needles. Cooking the leaves after washing will also help get rid of its stinging qualities. Stinging Nettle leaves can be used just like spinach in egg dishes, soups, or stews. They can be pureed for a variation on pesto, used on pizza or in lasagnas, and blended into cold soups. The leaves are most well-known for the British nettle soup that is believed to help cleanse the blood. In Scotland, the leaves are used to make nettle pudding with leeks, broccoli, and rice. Stinging Nettle leaves are also used to make teas and a beverage similar to ginger beer. One of the unique uses for Stinging Nettles is as an alternative to rennet for cheese making. Leaves are boiled along with an almost equal amount of salt, and then the concoction is strained and added to fresh milk. Stinging Nettle pairs well with full-fat dairy, which helps the body absorb the antioxidants in the leaves, sharp cheddar cheeses, eggs, chives, onions, and garlic. They will keep up to three days when stored unwashed and in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Stinging Nettle has been used as a pain remedy and as a woven material in Europe for centuries. The Greek physician, Hippocrates, who lived during the 4th and 5th century had over sixty reported remedies using the herb. In Scotland before the 17th century, a fiber made from the stems of the Stinging Nettle was woven into linen and was considered to be one of the most durable fabrics of its time. The herb’s use as a tea is also well-known for helping relieve mucus congestion, stimulate digestion, and may help nursing mothers produce milk.
Stinging Nettles are native to the colder climates of northern Europe and Asia and have been grown for thousands of years. Burial shrouds constructed of fabric from the Stinging Nettle were found in Denmark and date back to the Bronze Age (roughly 3000 to 2000 BCE). Today, Stinging Nettles can be found growing all over the world due to explorers and immigrants bringing the herb with them on their travels. They are cultivated as well as foraged and are most often found at farmer’s markets or specialty health stores in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America.
Recipes that include Stinging Nettle Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.