Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Wild Foods: Stinging Nettle

Nature provides. We do not have to plant all that we eat.

Urtica dioica is best known by its common name stinging nettle, a name that is well deserved. Stinging nettle is so called because of the burning pain that you can get when you brush up against it.
Stinging nettle loves abandoned properties and can be readily found where the people have moved on and let the plants have a free rein.
Stinging nettle may be found in Europe, Asia, N Africa and N America.
This is a wild crafters plant. A few sensible precautions can reduce your odds of getting stung. One wear long sleeves, long pants and gloves, the garden variety are fine. This actually makes sense no matter what plants you are collecting on abandoned lots, fields or in the forest.
The long sleeves and pant legs will protect you from a variety of plants and small wildlife, like ticks.
Two, use a good sharp pair of scissors to make a quick and clean cut and be sure to hold the plant by the leaf and in the middle, the video gives a good demonstration of how to harvest.
The nettle is vibrant green in colour and it is said that this indicates that the plant has a high iron and chlorophyll content. Stinging nettle is also reputed to be a very good source of the minerals calcium, magnesium, silicon, sulphur, copper, chromium, zinc, cobalt, potassium and phosphorus as well as containing high amounts of vitamins A, C, D, E, and K as well as riboflavin and thiamine.
The nettle fiber has been in clothing instead of cotton and flax, In Europe, the plant was gathered while young approximately a foot in height. It was then used as a vegetable not all that different from spinach, another under appreciated food source. In fact, if you find the taste of spinach to strong, you may prefer the milder tatse of nettle.
Apparently, nettle was used to treat scurvy and as a spring tonic. It ahs also been used as animal fodder as when the plant is cut and left to dry, it loses its bite.
Historically, the Germans have used nettle this way, as fodder for horses and have fed nettles to chickens with an increase in egg production.
Another traditional use of this versatile plant was to keep flies out of the larder which was accomplished by hanging a bunch of fresh nettles there.
It is claimed that the entire plant, that is the stems, leaves, flowers and roots possess strong medicinal properties.

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