About Nettles


From nettle tea to nettle soup, there are lots of ways to enjoy the health benefits of this wild herb.

This is a great time of year for nettle soup, as nettles are abundant and it’s a cleansing spring tonic. If you are looking for something a simpler you can prepare a cup of nettle tea by simply pouring hot water over a cup of fresh nettles, let steep covered for 7-10 minutes and strain the nettles.

Be careful when handling these delicious spring weeds, as their prickles may sting you, so use either gloves or tongs when preparing them. Nettles are high in iron and vitamins A and C. They are a diuretic and a tea prepared with nettles can support the kidneys, liver, and intestines.

An old practice to relieve gout and arthritic pain was to use rub stinging nettles on the affected area. The sting was thought to bring nutrient-rich blood flow to the area to promote healing.


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Fresh Nettle Tea


Stinging nettle loses its sting when you steep it, steam it, saute it, or put it in your blender.

Finely chop four heaped teaspoons of fresh nettle. Boil four cups of filtered water and remove from the heat. Add the nettle to the water and steep for 20 minutes with the lid on. Drink hot or cold.

You can also tie up your bundles of fresh nettle to dry, and enjoy nettle tea all spring long. Use 1 teaspoon dry tea to ounces water to make a strong, invigorating cup.

Recipe courtesy of herbsandoilsworld.com.

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Nettle Cake with Lemon Frosting


These nettles are too sweet to sting.

For the Cake
2 cups, packed, raw young nettle leaves (use gloves!)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Zest & juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cups Nash’s white wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Frosting
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Zest & juice of 1/2 a lemon
Frozen berries, any kind
Lemon zest

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease and line two 7” round cake tins. Using rubber gloves, wash stinging nettles and remove stems. Place in boiling water for 3-4 minutes to remove sting. Refresh under cold water, drain and puree in a blender.

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, then nettles, vanilla, zest and lemon juice. Sift in flour, baking powder and salt and stir to combine. Spoon into prepared tins, push to edges and level, then bake for 25 minutes until inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool completely.

To make the frosting, in large bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and beat. Beat in zest and lemon juice to make a frosting consistency and beat again. Spread some between cake layers and sandwich together. Cover with remaining frosting and decorate with berries and lemon zest.

nettle cake batter

The batter…

nettle cake before frosting

…the cake before frosting…

nettle cake with frosting

…and the cake after frosting (and tasting!).


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Nettle Soup with Potato


Don’t be afraid of nettles — they’re tasty and nutritious!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 pound potatoes, peeled and chopped
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, or water
1/2 pound stinging nettles
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
Sour cream, yogurt, or horseradish cream (optional)

In a large pot, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Add potatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook 15 minutes. Add nettles and cook until very tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter, pepper, and nutmeg.

Puree soup with an immersion blender or in a blender or food processor in batches. For a silken, less fibrous texture, run mixture through a food mill or sieve.

Stir in cream, if using. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if you like. Serve hot, garnished with sour cream, yogurt, or horseradish cream. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

We thank LocalFoods.About.com for this recipe.

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Nettle Soup

Nettles in a bag

Try this basic nettle soup recipe, then get creative and find your own favorite version. What is your favorite addition? Let us know in the comments below!

1/2 of a 5-gallon bucket nettles
6 cups water or stock
Lots of garlic
Some onion
Salt, pepper, and tabasco to taste
Butter (optional)

Simmer all ingredients. After about 15 minutes, add garlic and onion, then simmer 5 minutes more. Pulse or puree in blender. Optional: add a blob of butter to the pot.

Infinitely variable to individual preference!

We thank Brenda for this recipe, which is her favorite nettle recipe.

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Spring Green Soup

Nettle leaf

Nettles and chickweed make for a tasty wild-foraged soup.

1/3 pound freshly harvested nettles, washed (use gloves!)
Handful of freshly harvested chickweed, washed
2-3 small cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 small yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 finely minced, dried baby shitake mushroom (optional)

In large pot, melt butter and add onions. Saute 5 minutes or until golden. Add potatoes and garlic, sauté 1-2 minutes. Add stock, milk, mushroom, greens, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Blend until smooth.

We thank Greg Atkinson for this recipe.

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Nettle Pesto


Nettles don’t sting once cooked. Magically, steaming or boiling them makes them tame — and delicious!

You will need two or three big tong-fulls of fresh nettles for this recipe. We say tong-fulls because you do not want to pick up fresh nettles, as they will sting you. Get a huge pot of water boiling and add a handful of salt.

Grab the nettles with tongs and put them into the boiling water. Stir around and boil for 1-2 minutes.

Fish them out with a skimmer or the tongs and immediately dump them into a big bowl with ice water in it. Once they are cool, put them in a colander to strain.

Get a cloth towel, like a tea towel, and put the nettles in it. Wrap one end of the towel one way, then the other end of the towel the other and squeeze out as much moisture as you can.

This makes a little more than 1/2 cup of very green, very pretty pesto. Store any unused pesto in the fridge, topped with some olive oil to keep the air out.

To Make Nettle Pesto
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons toasted walnuts, pecans, or other nuts
2 tablespoons grated cheese (any hard cheese will do)
6-8 tablespoons blanched, chopped nettles
Olive oil (use the good stuff)

Pesto is best made with a mortar and pestle, thus the name, which means “pound.” You can also make it in a food processor. First add the nuts and crush lightly. Roughly chop the garlic and add it processor and pulse to blend.

Add the salt, cheese and the nettles and blend together until it is all fairly uniform.

Start adding olive oil. The amount depends on how you are using your pesto. If you are making a spread, use maybe 2 tablespoons. If a pasta sauce, double that or more. Either way, add 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring to incorporate it.

Serve as a spread on bread, as an additive to a minestrone as a pasta sauce or as a dollop on fish or poultry. You can freeze it and in the fall, put it on baked delicata squash. Fantastico!

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Nettle Shiitake Quiche


Nettles are so full of nutrients, plus they’re super-tasty with mushrooms and potatoes in this quiche.

Serves 8-12

2 baked pie shells
1 pint shiitake mushrooms
6 cups nettle tops
1 large russet or 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes
1 onion, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups milk
3 eggs
3/4 cup goat cheese
1 tablespoon tamari

Clean and cube potato(es) and boil until partly soft. Rinse nettles and cook in water until tender, then drain immediately. Sauté the onion and some garlic if you wish in half the oil until partly soft. Slice the shiitake and add to onion with the rest of oil and sauté for three minutes. Remove pan from heat and add potatoes and nettles. Put in crust. Combine milk, eggs, goat cheese and tamari and pour into pie crust. Bake at 350 F for 40-50 minutes, until center is set.

Adapted from Healing Wise by Susun S. Weed.

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Six Nettle Recipes

Nettle leaf

Young nettles are easily blanched and frozen to enjoy year round. They are easy to dry as well for healthy herbal teas.

Farmer’s Nettle Frittata
Saute red onions, mushrooms in season, grated carrot, finely sliced broccoli spears and minced chickweed together in olive oil until wilted. Add a handful of minced young nettle stalk and leaves on top, cover and let steam until nettles wilt. Meanwhile, prepare a mixture of eggs, minced parsley and dried basil. Stir well and pour it over the steaming veggies. Place a cover on the pan, wait until eggs set, then flip until done. Delicious as is or with salsa or chickweed pesto.

Leek, Chickweed and Nettle Soup
Saute chopped leeks, celery and crushed garlic cloves in olive oil until soft; add diced potatoes (I use russets or Yukon golds). Add minced chickweed, nettles, parsley, dried basil, turmeric, salt and perhaps a bit more oil or butter. Saute a few minutes more, mixing all the ingredients well to blend the flavors. Cover with stock or water and simmer until everything is tender. Other veggies can be added, such as tomatoes, grated carrots, or perhaps a tin of salmon added at the end for even more variety. Unlike most leek and potato soup recipes, I do not use milk or cream as an ingredient, nor do I find a need to puree if the ingredients are diced small enough, as everything seems to meld together just fine.

Nettle Lasagna
Any spinach lasagna recipe will do for nettle lasagna with the obvious substitution of sauteed or steamed young nettles. If you make your own noodles, toss a spoonful of dried nettle powder into your flour mixture for added nutrition or into your homemade tomato sauce.

Nettle Quiche
Again, there are countless recipes for making quiches. My favorite is from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen. Since I make my own crusts, sometimes I’ll throw in a tablespoon of dried nettle powder with my flours. For the filling, I use a large handful of chopped and steamed nettles, along with sauteed onions, mushrooms in season, chopped broccoli, and an assortment of fresh and dried herbs laid on a bed of feta and shredded raw cheddar cheeses. Over that goes an egg-and-milk mixture to which I might mix in an additional tablespoon of flour depending on how moist my ingredients are.

Nettle Greens Medley
Saute slivers of red onion and garlic in olive oil or coconut oil until translucent. Add equal amounts of chopped Swiss chard and nettle tops. Pour in a small quantity of water, cover with lid and steam until wilted and tender. Mix gently to blend the veggies and oil, sprinkle on some sea salt and serve.

A seasoning mixture of sesame seeds, nettle seed and nettle herb plus kelp and Celtic salt. Tasty! Roast 1/2 cup sesame seed in a frying pan to your liking. Cool. To a blender add cooled sesame seeds, 2/3 cup of nettle seed, 2 tablespoons dried nettle herb, 2 tablespoons kelp granules and 1/2 teaspoon Celtic salt. Blend till fine. Store in a glass jar. Goes great with a wide variety of foods. My morning toast is sprouted grain bread with a dribble of olive oil topped with this mixture and nutritional yeast. Yum!

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