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stinging nettles + some of my favorite herbal preparations

Updated: Apr 21

stinging nettle harvesting

when the food we eat has a story behind it ~ it is deeply nourishing. when legends + lore surround our food, we have more threads to weave into our own stories, more ways to reweave ourselves in wholeness ~ susun weed ~ abundantly well

stinging nettles are a traditional food containing protein, chlorophyll, vitamins a, b complex, c, + d, minerals ~ iron, magnesium, manganase, potassium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, chromium, and calcium. plus, amino acids and carotenes.

physical description ~ nettle can grow up to 7 ft tall at maturity but usually aren't quite that tall. they are best for consumption under 1 ft. in fact a lot of books say never to eat them after the go to seed. you wouldn't want to anyway they would be way to stringy and stalky. leaves are heart shaped to narrower lance shaped. stems and leaf undersides are covered in stinging hairs that omit formic acid. they have opposing leaves.

wild nettles

nettles are a blood building alterative and one of the highest sources of digestible plant iron. nettle leaf builds energy and restores the adrenals by way of mineralization. when you are fully mineralized you feel very good, and energy improves.

stinging nettles

nettle is one of my closest and oldest plant friends. i can’t imagine life without her. i love to consume her in a variety of ways. i don’t take the tincture personally because i prefer other methods of consumption however, i will cover how to make a tincture in this post. lots of folks find the tincture useful. i really enjoy nettle vinegar and use it daily when i have it on hand. my preferred method is a nourishing herbal infusion or simply incorporating the fresh spring greens in food. i started drinking nourishing herbal infusions around seven years ago and they have remained a constant in my life ever since. i like to dry as much as possible since herbal infusions use a lot of plant material. i still end up purchasing around 3 pounds a year. so let’s dry some nettle and discuss how i make nettle infusions.

nettle alter

the alter ~ dead things, meaningful things, and dried nettles. as you can see i simply just string them up. i start with three or four stalks, cut a strip of string, tie them together, tie another loop at the top, and there you have it. i hang by hooks and nails on the wall or ceiling. dry time will depend on your location and the humidity in the air. dry time at my home in montana is a lot shorter than dry time at the cabin in alaska. so just check as they dry and when the stalks “snap” they are dry usually one to two weeks or so. i cut the stalks as i jar them up. to create a smaller plant material for infusing. i have also used a food processor before to break the plant material up. i often will bust that thing out if i am processing a lot of dried nettles. my mum ties a string from wall to wall like a clothesline and spaces the nettles out one by one on the string by their leaves. this is a good method in a humid climate.

nettle nourishing herbal infusion

nettle infusions are a good way to stay mineralized throughout the year. there is a lot of info on nourishing herbal infusions out there on the interwebs. susun weed has a youtube channel that goes into great detail on them. i highly recommended if this sounds like something you would like to incorporate in your life. but the basic gist is 1 oz of dried plant material in a 1-quart mason jar. pour boiling water over and cap for 4 hrs or overnight. strain and refrigerate. drink 1 quart a day and rotate through non aromatic nourishing herbs. some examples include: nettle, linden (1/2 oz for this one, and it can be rebrewed), oatstraw, red clover, hibiscus (1/2 oz for this one too) , burdock, and violet leaf. i personally make a half gallon every two days and drink the same infusion two days in a row. this works for me. i also have been making these so long i don’t weight them out either. but it’s good to weigh at first so you can get an idea of how much plant material to use. now let’s move onto infused vinegar……yum

nettle vinegar

i start by chopping the nettles, you can of course where gloves if you like. i am a weirdo and like the sting 😂 so i don’t plus you can kinda wrap the leaves around the stalk as you chop and that cuts down on the sting. i fill a jar 3/4th full of chopped plant material, and top with apple cider vinegar. you can use any vinegar of choice. be sure and use a plastic lid or use some sorta wax paper in between the remedy and lid otherwise the acid in the vinegar will eat the lid and make a nasty mess. you can let this infuse for whatever amount of time works for you. i made this vinegar in april and i will strain and consume upon my return to the cabin in august. i would say a minimum of 2-3 weeks and a maximum of 1 year as far as vinegar infusion time goes.

herbal vinegar making

nettle vinegar

after the desired infusion time simply strain and bottle, you can store in the fridge or not. i consume a little vinegar everyday so i don’t refrigerate but you should do what you feel inclined to do. i strain through a metal strainer and sometimes i use a cheesecloth too.

herbal vinegar infusion

herbal vinegar making

my favorite ways to consume vinegar are drinking it and topping a salad. my drink of choice starts with 2 tablespoons of infused vinegar, 1/4 cup tea or infusion, sparkling water, and a lemon or lime slice. i drink at least one of these most days ~ either while cooking dinner or having happy hour. i am not a boozer anymore but i absolutely love happy hour. it’s a great way to stop and connect with the ones you love. now let’s discuss tincture making.

nettle tincture making

a tincture is an alcohol extraction think about vanilla extract that is basically a tincture. alcohol extracts plant compounds that water does not. i am not going to go into great detail about extraction because there is a lot of info already out there. at the end of this post i will link article and book references. some reasons to take nettle tincture would be if you are super busy and don’t want to invest in the herbal infusions. again, infusions are the way to go but i’m not here to tell you what to do. my partner does not drink infusions and he benefits greatly from nettle tincture and he consumes it regularly. alternating between nettle and devil’s club mainly for energy and the overal adaptagenic qualities. there are several ways to make a tincture. if i am making tinctures to sell i will use the ratio method mainly for the sake of consistency 😂 or the illusion of it anyway. plants are like people they are all different even if they are the same species. mostly i make tinctures for myself, friends, or family and in that case i find the folk method quite adequate. folk method is basically 3/4th full chopped fresh plant material in a jar, cover with alcohol, press down plant material with a chop stick or something similar, cap, label, and store out of direct sunlight. infusion time is kinda like the vinegar. make it work for you with at least six weeks infusion if you can do that. again i have had some tinctures sit on the shelf a year or more. that is totally fine because alcohol is a great preservative, right? even after it is strained and bottled tinctures will last several years.

nettle tincture

i also enjoy the simpler things too just plain ol blanched nettles with butter, salt, and pepper, in order to get the “sting” out i like to blanch the nettles for around a minute then cool with cold water in a colander. once the pot boils place the nettles in and submerge, wait a minute, then rinse in cold water.

preparing nettles

blanching nettles

wild food preparation

to prepare these ~ if the stalks are small i chop them up if they are larger sometimes i will pull the leaves off and compost the fatter stalks. i put chopped nettles in a pan with butter and sauté briefly. if you have a lemon, you can put fresh squeezed lemon on there along with salt and pepper…..yum. i have also used these sautéed nettles as a burger topping too. works better than lettuce. this makes a great side dish. you can also add to smoothies or hummus. i have several nettle recipes in the blog section. i also like to save the nettle cooking water from the blanching. it’s like a nettle broth sorta and it can be either used in cooking or just drink it. i usually just drink it.

i use this blanch method to process a large number of nettles then i store in the fridge for future use. if you have a smaller amount, you can cook as usual ~ sauté for example.

harvesting nettles

nettles offer so much they have inhanced my life in many ways. they once spoke to me and told me where they were. it wasn’t words exactly it was more of a strong feeling that was loud and clear. the message ~ stop stop stop the nettles are here. as i drove down an old dirt road. i didn’t listen at first i thought what is up with these crazy weird strong thoughts i told myself no no the nettles are up the road a little farther. when i arrived at my usual nettle harvest spot someone was living there, a trailer had set up shop. so i was like yeah that’s what that message was about. so down the road i went back to the spot of the strong message and hiked down a little bit and they were there dancing in the breeze and laughing at me.

zimovia strait

i harvested these nettles on ancestral homeland it was extremely connective. connective in the way berry picking with family members is. returning to the same places to wildcraft builds a relationship. then the story can begin ~ your story with nettle.


discovering wild plants by janice schofield

energetic herbalism by kat maier

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