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Unloved weed with undreamt-of potential in terms of taste and health value. However, the nettle knows how to defend its secret well: equipped with stinging hair and up to a man's height, many people remember it painfully…
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- Ingredients, smell and taste
- Use and preparation
The nettle (Urtica dioica) belongs to the nettle family (Urticaceae). A distinction is made between the up to one and a half meters high "large nettle" and the "small nettle" - both are suitable for consumption.
The leaves are opposite in pairs, are roughly serrated and light (younger leaves) to dark gray-green (older leaves). The stems and leaves are abundantly provided with stinging hairs. Even with light touch, these break off and release the nettle poison. It causes unpleasant but harmless skin irritation. You can avoid the painful experience by touching the plant from bottom to top. However, if you want to harvest nettle, it is best to use gloves.
The nettle can be found on well-tended parks and lawns as well as in natural meadows, on the edge of the forest, in floodplains or other wetlands. Gardeners should actually be happy about your presence. It is an indicator that the soil is particularly fertile and rich in nutrients.
Ingredients, smell and taste
The nettle is rich in protein and contains the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and silicon as well as vitamins A and C. The seeds contain linoleic acid, an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid (omega-6 fatty acid) and vitamin E.
The shoot tips of the nettle ("leaves") taste like spinach, their seeds like nutty.
Use and preparation
The young shoot tips, seeds and flower buds are suitable for consumption.
The nettle was used as a vegetable, especially in the war and post-war periods. This is why it still has the image of a “poor people's meal”, and it has only been experiencing a renaissance in the last few years.
The shoot tips of the nettle can be boiled. Despite its stinging hair, the nettle can also be eaten raw. For this purpose, the shoot tips are rolled over with a rolling pin and “defused”, and the chopping in the blender also renders the stinging hair harmless. Alternatively, you can blanch the nettle for a few seconds.
The seeds are used fresh or dried or roasted as a spice or simply to nibble, as a muesli or salad topping.
The nettle is used in a variety of ways as a herb in various dishes or as a salad ingredient. A classic is their processing like spinach (nettle spinach). Their aroma goes just as well with dishes with eggs such as omelets, egg dishes, quiche or baked in a batter. It is a popular ingredient in soups and pasta dishes.
In addition, the nettle is drunk in beverages such as vegetable juices, (green) smoothies or dried as tea. A nettle pesto (seasoning paste for pasta or spread) is particularly hearty in taste.
Note Nettle manure is a good fertilizer in the house and garden. You can find more information on plant strengthening agents in the brochure Natural Niche House Garden on the “die umweltberatung” website.
Naturopathy classifies the nettle as stimulating the metabolism, blood-purifying and diuretic (dehydrating). It is used, for example, for rheumatic complaints.
Further information on wild plants and herbs can be found on the website of “Die Umweltberatung” and in the information sheet on vitamins from wild plants and seedlings.
Further information and posters to print out are available from (Wild) Herbs: Brochures & Forms.