Spring is the best time to harvest nettles when the shoots are fresh and tender.
In my beautiful garden, I can see many nettles sprouting in between the bushes and plants. Most people view nettles as a weed and a nuisance but they are packed with nutrients and have many medicinal properties.
Nettles (Urtica diocia) have been traditionally used for hundreds of years to treat a range of conditions like arthritis/joint problems, eczema/skin conditions, allergies, constipation, fluid retention and anaemia. Nettles are anti-inflammatory, they help to normalise blood sugar, blood pressure, support blood clotting and wound healing . Nettles are an ideal supplement for supporting detoxification due to their Sulphur content and chlorophyll, a potent blood cleanser and liver purifier.
Unlike most garden plants, nettles root deep into the ground and are able to draw in many minerals from the earth. Nettles are rich in minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, chromium and sulphur. They are also a source of fibre, protein and contain beta carotene, vitamin C, B-complex and vitamin K. Nettles are a source of many nutrients, which can help to strengthen the body including the kidneys, liver, blood, hair, skin and nails.
Nettles As Food
Nettles are edible, the leaves and stems are covered with tiny stinging spines which contain formic acid and histamine like substances, so be careful when you pick them. Wear protective gloves to handle nettles but once they have been cooked they are safe. Nettles may be added to many dishes like soups, sauces, stir-fry's, curries and so on. The heat from cooking destroys the stinging chemicals.
If you want to juice your garden nettles then use only young nettles and juice them with something like carrots and apples. Alternative blend fresh young nettles and add to smoothies or pesto. Blending destroys the stinging spines making them safe to consume.
You can also dry Spring nettles for year round use. Use dried nettles for teas or enriching dishes like soups, stews and broths.
Nettles are truly a gift from nature, a powerhouse of nutrients and free food.
If you are using medications to control high blood pressure, blood sugar, using blood thinners, have weak kidneys, are pregnant/breastfeeding then consult your health practitioner if you are thinking of using nettles.