Enjoy a Wild Bounty with 3 Simple Nettle Recipes


| 6/20/2018 12:47:00 PM



Ask anyone in Northern New York’s Adirondack Mountains about stinging nettle, and you’ll get a story.

In my hometown haven of hiking and camping, the chances of accidentally brushing through a nettle patch while walking along an overgrown trail is more likely than not. Luckily, the itching and burning effects of nettle stings usually last only a few minutes, and the upsides to being surrounded by the edible and nutrient-rich wild plant are numerous.

Abundant in the woods, along trails, and near rivers and streams, stinging nettle (along with the similar wood nettle) is a seasonal must-have for creative cooks looking for a versatile green. Nettle harvest season begins before most cultivated crops send up fragile green shoots in our fields, and can last for months before the plants go to flower and then seed.

Be sure to prepare for your nettle-picking excursion by wearing long sleeves and pants, and by bringing along a pair of gardening gloves. Nettle patches can cover a large expanse of ground, and since you only want to pick the top 4 inches or so of plant (including the thin, fragile stems), you may need to travel through a patch to harvest your desired quantity. As soon as you wilt or dry your nettle it will lose all stinging ability and can be handled without gloves or tongs.

This mild and delicious green isn’t bitter like many other wild greens, and stands in well for spinach or arugula in soups, sauces, and pastas. Since the leaves are delicate and will break apart when stirred or blended, nettle works best in recipes where small pieces of greens are desired. You can also enjoy dried nettle as a steaming cup of tea in the cooler months to come.



Stinging nettle and wood nettle are both edible, both sting, and are quite similar in appearance. Be sure to wash nettle and allow to air dry before use, and collect leaves from areas that are unlikely to be exposed to pesticides or other contaminants. As with all foraging, consult trusted field guides and experts to ensure positive plant identification, and check with a doctor for any specific health concerns.