4 Great Reasons to Fall in Love with Nettles

Stinging nettles

Nettles, freshly cut. Put them in the crisper and they’ll keep for at least a couple of weeks. Or dry them.

My love affair with Stinging Nettles is a relatively recent occurrence. When I was growing up, in England, it seemed they were everywhere, including at the bottom of our garden. It was definite ‘no-go’ zone, a land of lost tennis balls, rusty cans and who knew what else?

At junior school, the shooting range (air rifles only) was in a wood, well protected by nettles. The big kids took great delight in threatening to throw the small kids in amongst them. And sometimes did. I was very small in those days. And quickly learned the soothing power of dock leaves. But I digress.

Let’s just say that for most of my life, until recently, I’ve had little use for nettles. However, as my interest in wild foraging has grown (thanks to evangelists like Langdon Cook, I’ve come to not only appreciate them but actually love and respect them.

 

Here’s why:

1. Stinging Nettles are the harbingers of Spring. They’re among the first greenery to reappear in our woods and open spaces. They kindle an instance sense of renewal and optimism at winter’s end. They also command immense respect when being harvested!

2. Nettles are a vital part of the ecosystem, a favourite place for butterflies such as the Red Admiral to lay their eggs. They possess their own, unique, natural defense against grazing animals, which makes them an ideal habitat for insects. Read more about why they love nettles in the UK (including all about Be Nice to Nettles Week).

3. Nettles are immensely beneficial, packed with anti-oxidants, help circulation, revitalise kidney function and a whole lot more.

4. Nettles are incredibly tasty, either on their own, in a risotto, as tea made from dried leaves or a plethora of other ways.

 

Stinging nettles are also increasingly hard to find, as our urban areas expand. If you are lucky enough to find and harvest them, please exercise restraint: be selective; and leave enough for the bees and the butterflies, as well as for other (hopefully) responsible foragers.

 

A nettle wine?

Joie Noble Blend with creamy nettle risotto

Joie Noble Blend: a perfect match for creamy nettle risotto

I love them chopped up in a creamy nettle and mushroom risotto. (Yes, you do need a little cholesterol to balance out all that goodness.)

As a for wine match? You want something white, not too heavy and preferably unoaked.  Riesling is a slam dunk, especially if it has a streak of mineral. My current crush is Joie Farm Noble Blend 2013 (Okanagan Valley).

It’s a deliciously balanced, fruity, complex marriage of Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Auxerrois and Schönberger, with just the right weight and mouthfeel to play off the cream. There’s a hint of spice and mineral that marries with the nettle, some citrus, and decent acidity to cut through the fat of the dish. In short, it’s a delicious pairing.

 

Read more about nettles here.

 

Nettle Nirvana

Nettle Nirvana

By | 2018-01-21T15:05:12+00:00 February 16th, 2015|Dining|0 Comments

About the Author:

Tim has been covering the food and wine revolution for about 20 kilos. Count 15 kg alone thanks to the blossoming cuisine and wine culture of British Columbia, Canada. Tim’s hallmark is seeking out and recommending value wines from BC and around the world that offer quality at every level. He also scopes out noteworthy restaurants that live up to their promises—and often over deliver. Readers depend on the Hired Belly for his “Belly’s Best” and “Belly’s Budget Best” picks to help them find the right wine for the occasion. He writes, tweets and shoots his own images for columns in the Vancouver Courier and North Shore News. He also contributes to WHERE Vancouver magazine, as well as to several other publications. They include Taste magazine, Tidings Magazine, and Montecristo. His columns are frequently picked up by major newspapers across Canada. Tim is a frequent judge for wine competitions, such as Vancouver Magazine International Wine Awards. He is a founding judge of The BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Wine. He is frequently invited to judge at The BC Wine Awards, and others. Tim has traveled to taste in many of the world’s leading wine regions, most recently in Burgundy, Argentina and Chile.

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