Nettle rightly deserves to be called the most versatile of our wild vegetables. It is Finnish superfood at its best. The new little nettles are eager to lift their heads out of the ground after the winter - now is a good time refresh your mind about the numerous uses of nettle and of its amazing nutritional values. Nettle should be one of the first wild herbs you familiarize yourself with when you start a new wild food hobby. It is perhaps the most versatile and one of the healthiest of our wild vegetables.
The green but mild taste of nettle is particularly well suited to Finnish taste buds. In fact, without its stinging hairs, animals would have already eaten it to extinction. The nettle is also easy to learn to identify and there are no toxic similar looking plants, so it’s safe to forage without fears.
The nettle foraging site should be chosen carefully, as nettles easily absorb nitrates which, when ingested in high quantities, burden the body. Rapid blanching, ie boiling in water for about half a minute, or drying removes the stinging effect of the hairs. Blanching also lowers the nitrate content of nettle, but at the same time, some of the nettle’s nutrients are lost when boiling. Therefore, nettles should not be boiled longer than necessary. Keep in mind, that nettles should not be collected from nitrate-rich places, such as near composts or livestock shelters. Thus, blanching is not primarily done because of nitrates, but it removes the stinging effect and softens the structure of the plant to be suitable for freezing or cooking, especially for warm foods. Usually, adequate crushing of the leaves in a blender also removes the stinging effect of the hairs. Nitrates are harmful to our health because they are converted in our bodies to nitrites and then potentially to carcinogens. Nettles contains the least amount of nitrates in the fall and after sunny days. In addition, the formation of carcinogens in the body can be reduced by making sure you eat enough foods rich in vitamins C and E, such as nettle.
Nettle foraging should start early in the spring. Young nettle shoots are the best delicacy and full of nutrients to stimulate our bodies after a winter of hibernation. As the growing season progresses, it is worth grazing your own nettle, as this will give you new fresh vegetation for a long time. In late summer, the focus can shift to collecting nettle seeds.
Nettle is superfood
Nettle is Finnish superfood at its best. Nettle contains significant amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin C, folate and vitamins A and E in relation to the recommended daily in-takes. Nettle also contains more protein and dietary fiber than spinach. In dried nettle, the nutrient density increases many times, and with just a tablespoon of dried nettle, you can easilly add more nutrients to an omelet or a smoothie. Nettle also has numerous herbal effects and it is said to cleanse and strengthen the body very effectively.
Nettle, when used externally, is also said to thicken and strengthen hair and relieve skin conditions and allergies. In cooking Nettle is suitable for use just like you would use spinach and kale. For example, in vegetable roasts, vegetable side dishes, sauces, stews, soups, pies, pancakes, crepes, rolls and crispbreads. Dried nettle is especially suited as a green powder for smoothies, doughs and pestos. Ground, crushed or dried nettle does not sting.
In the fall, nettles grow seeds that hang in juicy bunches, easily on display for foraging. Dried nettle seeds are full of nutrients and can be sprinkled on porridge or muesli, among other things, or added to doughs and breads. Seeds are the most nutritious part of the nettle plant. They contain, among other things, all the essential amino acids, a large amount of vitamin E, silicon and magnesium.
Use it like spinach
Nettle which is to be used like spinach is best preserved by freezing, acidifying and drying. Before freezing, it is a good idea to blanche the nettles for about 30 seconds to eliminate the stinging effect of the nettle hairs and make the plant structure better for freezing. The heat treatment stops the enzyme activity of the plant, and without the blanching, the plants are easily converted to water in the freezer and their taste suffers. Heat treatment also reduces the nitrate content of nettle. Once the nettle has been blanched, rinse it with water and squeeze any excess water out of it. The blanching water can be used as a hair rinse, foot bath or other pampering treatment of as a fertilizer in your garden. A beginner can easily get into the groove of cooking using nettle by trying out a pesto or a nettle herbal salt.
Vegan nettle pesto, 2dl jar about
- 0.5–1 dl soaked nettle crush (soak about 2–3 tablespoons of crush in half a decilitre of water for 30–60 min)
- about 1 dl cashew nuts (or pine nuts / sunflower seeds)
- High-quality cold-pressed olive oil, enough so that the pesto becomes a desired texture
- Season with nutritional yeast flakes (e.g. Valioravinto Nutritional Yeast Flakes), garlic and nettle salt.
You can also give the METTÄ nettle pesto mix a try.
Nettle salt (about 2dl)
This simple herbal salt is created by mixing nettle, goutweed and yarrow with a high-quality sea salt in the desired ratio. As your wild taste buds develop, you can also mix ingredients from trees such as juniper, spruce sprouts and birch leaves into the salt.
- 1,5 dl of high quality sea salt
- 2 tablespoons dried nettle powder / crush
- 1 tablespoon dried goutweed powder / crush
- 1 tablespoon dried yarrow flowers and / or leaves
If you can't or don't want to make your own salt, try high-quality METTÄ Nettle Salt nettle salt or METTÄ Porcini Salt. Nordic silk The use of nettle is not only limited to food. Nettle is considered to be the oldest man-made textile plant used as early as the Iron Age. The nettle fiber was very high quality and called the "Silk of the North". Nettle fibers can be used similarly to linen fibres. Textiles made from nettle fiber are an ecological alternative alongside other natural fibers such as hemp, linen and organic cotton. Nettle is also particularly suitable for skin and hair care. Rubbing nettle on the scalp makes the scalp healthy and soft - not recommended for blonde hair! In addition, nettle water is excellent as a fertilizer for organic farming. Discover nettle with our wild herb foraging courses or through our products.
Nokkosella on myös lukemattomia rohdosvaikutuksia, joista merkittävimpinä voidaan pitää sen vaikutusta lisätä virtsan eritystä sekä nopeuttaa myrkkyjen ja kuona-aineiden poistumista elimistöstä. Nokkosen kerrotaan ulkoisesti käytettynä saavan myös hiukset tuuheutumaan ja vahvistumaan, helpottavan iho-oireita ja allergioita.
Nokkonen sopii käytettäväksi pinaatin ja lehtikaalin tavoin vihannespaistoksissa, kasvislisukkeena, kastikkeissa, muhennoksissa, keitoissa, piiraissa, letuissa, pannukakuissa, sämpylöissä ja näkkileivissä. Kuivattu nokkonen sopii erityisen hyvin viherjauheeksi smoothieisiin, taikinoihin ja pestoihin. Jauhettu ja kuivattu nokkonen ei polta. Syksyllä nokkonen kasvattaa siemeniä, jotka roikkuvat mehukkaina helposti kerättävinä terttuina. Kuivatut siemenet ovat täynnä ravinteita, ja niitä voi ripotella muun muassa puuron tai myslin päälle sekä lisätä taikinoihin ja leipiin. Siemenet ovatkin kasvin ravintorikkain osa. Ne sisältävät muun muassa kaikkia välttämättömiä aminohappoja, suuren määrän E-vitamiinia, piitä ja magnesiumia.
- noin 0,5–1 dl liotettua nokkosrouhetta (liota noin 2–3 rkl puoleen desiin vettä 30-60 min)
- noin 1 dl cashewpähkinöitä (tai pinjansiemeniä/auringonkukansiemeniä)
- Laadukasta kylmäpuristettua oliiviöljyä niin paljon, että pestosta tulee sopivan juoksevaa
- Mausta ravintohiivahiutaleilla (esim. Valioravinto Oluthiivahiutale), valkosipulilla ja nokkosyrttisuolalla.
- 1,5 dl laadukasta merisuolaa
- 2 rkl kuivattua nokkosjauhetta/rouhetta
- 1 rkl kuivattua vuohenputkijauhetta/rouhetta
- 1 rkl kuivattua siankärsämön kukkaa tai/ja lehteä
Kirja: Villiyrtit. Hyvinvointia kotikulmilta. Annika Hannus, Anna Nyman, Pauliina Toivanen, Aino Huotari, Nick Victorzon WSOY, 2017.
Kirja: Villivihannekset. Sinikka Piippo. Minerva Kustannus Oy, 2016.
Kirja: Hulluna Hortaan. Raija ja Jouko Kivimetsä. Mividata Oy, 3. painos 2016.