Handling Nettle Without the Sting


| 5/12/2011 12:15:58 PM


DebDeb's family owns a small herb farm and herbal skin care business in Porterfield, Wisconsin. It is there that they play and work with herbs on a daily basis. Deb is a Master Gardener Volunteer, organizer of a local herb group, and a teaches herb-related and soap-making classes for a local technical college, folk school, and right on the farm. (www.petermanbrookherbfarm.com) 

Many people think we herbies are crazy when we start talking about the wonderful benefits of harvesting and using nettle. They typically cannot see past the sting and the fact that it is considered a nasty weed.

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Commonly considered a weed, nettles are highly nutritious.
Photo by Deb Doubeck
 

The very best way to handle and harvest nettle, especially if you are extremely sensitive to it, is using typical yellow kitchen gloves and a pair of scissors or pruning shears. We have such an abundance of the plant that I grab the plant by gloved hands and shear several stalks all at once. Nettle is best if harvested before the plant goes to seed, so spring is an excellent time to harvest.

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Wear kitchen gloves when harvesting nettle to avoid stinging your hands.
Photo by Deb Doubeck
 



When I want to dry nettle, I simply wrap the four to six stalks together with a rubber band and then hang to dry. We use dried stinging nettle in one of our soaps, more so for the beautiful, natural green color than for the actual benefits to the skin. It can also be used as a tea and it can be added to dishes—nettle is extremely nutritious.



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