Erin is the Communication Manager at Mountain Rose Herbs and an apprenticing herbalist at the Columbines School of Botanical Studies, where she botanizes and wildcrafts medicinal plants in the magnificent Oregon Casacades. www.mountainroseherbs.com
It’s time once again to harvest the tender green tops of the glorious stinging nettle!
Growing happily in herb gardens, wet woods and riparian eco-systems this time of year, Urtica dioica is used around the world as a springtime tonic. Whether taken as a tincture, nutrient-rich tea, sautéed with garlic, added to green juice, or blended fresh into smoothies and pesto, this versatile and delicious herb is much beloved—stinging trichomes and all!
Spring nettles growing wild in the Oregon woods!
Photo by Erin McIntosh
How humans came to trust this lovely but very well armed perennial is a mystery to me. When I told my mom that nettles make tasty greens, her voice filled with pain as she recounted childhood memories of neighborhood kids chasing each other with spiky stems full of the dreaded burning chemical cocktail!
For those who brave the sting, nettles are a true powerhouse offering us potassium, calcium, magnesium, silicic acid, iron, zinc and a plethora of other vitamins and minerals. It has also been used throughout history to make rope and beautiful green dye.
The fiercely serrated cordate leaves can be used fresh or dried for a variety of medicinal actions, too. Nettle is a strong diuretic and helpful for pre-menstrual water retention, offers kidney and liver support, aids arthritic inflammation, restores electrolytes, makes the skin glow, the hair shine, and can relieve seasonal allergy symptoms. A few strong cups of nettle tea per day can help prepare your body for the pollen-filled breezes of spring!
The vibrant patch of nettles in my garden has inspired me to experiment with new ways to incorporate this amazing plant into everyday recipes. I’ve tossed them into omelettes, sprinkled chiffonade-cut leaves on pizza, blended them in a Thai curry sauce, and pickled them in jars. A few weeks ago, I hosted a brunch for friends and created a new recipe that I’m really excited to share! These Nettle Garlic Buttermilk Biscuits are soft, savory, and absolutely craveable. And no worries—the leaves lose their sting as you chop them up.
These nettle-infused biscuits are light and fluffy!
Photo by Erin McIntosh
Nettle Garlic Buttermilk Biscuits
Makes 12 to 15 biscuits
• 2 cups organic unbleached flour
• 1⁄2 teaspoon fine Himalayan pink salt
• 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
• 4 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
• 5 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
• 1 cup organic buttermilk (1.5 percent)
• 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh nettle leaves
• Thick gloves for harvesting and chopping the nettles
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large mixing bowl and stir thoroughly. Using two butter knives or a pastry cutter, add the butter until the mixture resembles a crumbly meal.
2. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk with finely chopped garlic and nettle leaf. Add this liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and gently fold together to form a soft dough.
3. Turn the dough onto a floured cutting board, knead gently until it just comes together adding a little more flour if needed, and roll the dough out until it’s about 1⁄2-inch in thickness. Using the rim of a small glass, cut the dough into 2 1/2- to 3-inch rounds and place on an ungreased baking sheet.
4. Bake the biscuits for 18 minutes or until light golden brown.
5. Remove from the baking sheet to avoid over-crisping your biscuit bottoms and serve warm fresh from the oven with butter. Enjoy!