Beyond eating nettle lightly cooked when very young, it’s most versatile to think of employing it as a dried vegetable.
Unlike parsley, stinging nettle (urtica dioica) has a barely noticeable flavor but is still super nutritious. Dry, it can be easily crumbled to a powder and slipped into virtually anything — soups of course; also eggs, sauces, stuffings, even baked goods and vanilla pudding! Experiment with how much you can wedge into a recipe without affecting the desired results.
Nettle can be fussy about its location and soil, so if you aren’t growing it, it should be easy to purchase dried, organic, in bulk from your health food store or a reputable mail order supplier.
I have a good amount of nettle daily by making an infusion of it the primary beverage, replacing plain water. Herbal infusions carry more of the good stuff if left to steep 8-24 hours in a closed canning jar. Proportion of leaf to water can be as rich or light as your palate and your purse can agree on. Obviously, the more whole-plant nutrients consumed each day, the better.
I make three or four days’ worth at once, in 6-cup canning jars, to save time, then refrigerate them all as soon as they are cooled down. If you prefer to drink hot, the choices are:
- having a less nutrient-dense version fresh after brewing in a closed, towel-wrapped jar or in a teapot left on a low burner for a half hour,
- Or have a less flavorful version after reheating the infusion the next day. Reheated herb tea is comparable to reheated coffee, fine if you must juggle priorities.
NETTLE INFUSION IDEAS
Made with easily grown or wildcrafted extras; experiment to find your preferred ratios.
Mint (lively and a crowd pleaser)
Ginger slices and mullein leaf (brightening, opening)
Sumac berries, elderberries, and a sprig of goldenrod (immune system enhancing)
Lemon balm and St Joan’s Wort (calming)
Anise hyssop (charming)
Laurie Goodhart and her husband co-founded and operated two certified organic artisanal goat fromageries, Nettle Meadow in Warrensburg, NY from 1990 to 2005 and Domaine De Courval in Waterville, Quebec from 2006 to 2017. She created and trademarked the multiple award-winning cheese, Kunik.
Goodhart lives in upstate New York and continues her lifelong work as a professional artist and avid gardener. Since 2007 she has devoted her studio time to an extensive suite of paintings and mixed media work titled, The Remnants And Residents Of A Lost Sanctuary Of Aphrodite. She describes the work as, “resonant totems for liminal times”. An iteration of the Lost Sanctuary is currently on view in the gallery of Stephen Procter Studiosin Brattleboro VT and can be visited by appointment.
Laurie can be reached through her art website, lauriegoodhart.com