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Nettles

Our garden yesterday.

Tall Nettles
TALL nettles cover up, as they have done
These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plough
Long worn out, and the roller made of stone:
Only the elm butt tops the nettles now.

This corner of the farmyard I like most:
As well as any bloom upon a flower
I like the dust on the nettles, never lost
Except to prove the sweetness of a shower.
~ Edward Thomas ~
Every time we venture out to pick nettles, Sime always goes on about this poem!

Anyway, thought I'd share with you the article I've written for next month's Parish Magazine...


Our hedgerows are coming alive with food aplenty, but hardly anyone really notices the nettles that surround us, they grow quietly while using their juices to produce a medicine that can bring health. Anaemia, arthritis, rickets, tuberculosis, respiratory diseases, colds, catarrh & lymphatic problems can all benefit from this wonderful wild & free super food.
Nettles are rich in calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, as well as Vitamins A, B, C, D & K & many more important trace elements & how lucky we are that this plant has a stinging exterior – without it we would never benefit from its healing power, as animals, with their instinctive knowledge of what is good for them, would never leave us even one leaf!
Being vegetarian/vegan for over 20 years, our family have long been lovers of juicing & have used all sorts of wonderfully exotic super foods in the past, but these days our favourite is nettles. We drink nettle tea all year round & in spring, we pick the tops from young nettles by the bagful to pulp & sprinkle on our soups, salads & pasta dishes. We also use them to make home-made beer; which along with root ginger, certainly makes a fine brew.


We found enough just in our hedgerow today.


And cooked up a soup on the woodburner...

So no electricity involved either!

Red lentil, Carrot, Ginger & Nettle Soup

6oz Red Lentils
12 oz Carrots
1 Large Leek
1 Medium Potato
3 Cloves Garlic
1 inch piece Ginger
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Celery Seed
3 Bay Leaves
1 litre of water or stock if preferred
Half a colander of Young Nettle Leaves (not old tough looking ones)!
1 tbsp Sage
Milk to taste (We recommend Oat & Almond)
Salt & Pepper

  1. Chop leek, carrots, potato & ginger & place in saucepan with a little of the water & celery seed. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  2. Wash & add lentils, bay leaves, cumin & the rest of the water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Once the lentils & carrots are cooked, add the garlic, nettles & sage. Continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.
  4. Take off the heat. Remove the bay leaves. Add more water if required, then add milk, blend the soup & season to taste.

Tonight, Sime added more lentils to the soup along with some chopped onion & garlic, then served it with steamed veggies - as we've been given loads of extra organic veg by the owners of the property we cleaned today...

Another few busy days - a spring clean today, tomorrow we'll be cleaning for Mr. Grumpy Pants (a local old man who just snarls at us now & again), home education group on Wednesday & then cleaning again through until Sunday... And of course there's the mountain of work washing & ironing...

Mummy's little helper...

Looking forward to quieter times already! 

Night, night.

K&S
xx

Comments

Jane and Chris said…
Drooling over my keyboard at that soup. We don't get nettles here...shame as they are so good!
Jane x
pattypan.2 said…
Hi Kay and Sime

Glad you are both okay although it would appear you are rushed off your feet as usual. Thank you for the delightfully different recipe. I have already been eying up the nettles when we take Missy for a walk so I may well try this, this weekend as I could live on soups. I am also particularly mindful that nettles were used as a purgative years ago after long winters of eating salted and preserved foods which used to clog the system up. My granddad used to nettle himself at this time of year to stop him being afflicted with the arthritis; this seemed to work for him as he never suffered from it although his sister had it all in her spine and had to wear a neck support and brace from her middle forties; and I also have it.

I have a couple of questions to ask. First does Sime have a favourite recipe for Nettle beer as I would really like to get to grips with this, this year if I can. Second, nettle tea do you dry the nettles or do you freeze them in ice cube trays and then pop the cubes out into boiling water? Third do you make nettle soup up in batches and freeze so that you can have a top up during the winter months. Would be pleased to hear from you (when you have a moment so that I can take advantage) and do you have any other nettle recipes that you are fond of?

take care and don't work too hard.

Pattypan

x
just Gai said…
I never knew that you could cook on a wood burner. How wonderful!
Karin said…
I had no idea nettles were so good for you. We recently chopped ours down as they were growing where we wanted to put our beehives. I must say the soup looks more appetising than nettle tea. Do they taste anything like spinach?

I am hoping to cultivate a patch of nettles for the butterflies, in an out of the way spot, but they prefer to grow where we don't want them.
Kath said…
I am also interested in the answers to Patty pans queries :-)

As I was reading, I was thinking, please let Kay post a recipe.... and there it was! I'm off to the market to buy a leek now, so I can make it myself!

I have 2 patches of nettle remaining from the clear up, both in places where I'm happy to leave them (and the dogs can't wee on them LOL).

Thanks for sharing.
Catherine said…
Look at how slim you are Kaye! You look fantastic and healthy! And that soup? Yummy!
And of course your furry helper is adorable as well. LOL!

Happy Tuesday!
xo Catherine
Kath said…
HEY I'm eating mine now!! I put the stalks in, which might have been a mistake, as I keep fishing out fibrous bits LOL
Next time I will pick the leaves off the stalks and take out the bay leaves before blending :-)
I didn't have any celery seed, but I used some leaves from my celery instead.
The Smiths said…
Hi Kath - whoops! I forgot to mention about removing the bay leaves... Sorry - also just leaves are better & only young, fresh looking leaves.

Kay :)
The Smiths said…
Thanks for the comments folks - will reply properly to you all asap.

Please see my comment to Kath above regarding the nettles & if anyone does pick them complete with the stalks - it may be best to cook them for longer...

Bye for now,

Kay :)
dreamer said…
Your soup looks delicious,I love anything with ginger in :) I was eyeing up fresh nettles down the lane earlier, this recipe looks way more appealing than just a nettle soup.Thanks for posting the recipe.
Kath said…
i think it was the fact I threw the sage in, stalks an' all LOL
The Smiths said…
Thanks Jane!

Kay :)
Becky said…
I've had nettle beer before, it was lovely. I always remember the 'good life' episode when they were picking nettles to use to dye their wool and also make soup, which they didnt like!! x Your soup looks delicious x
The Smiths said…
Thanks Pattypan - I've heard of people with arthritis stinging themselves. We have a great old herbal tea book & the author, Donald Law talks about rubbing freshly picked nettles on his legs to stop him from getting a chill, after getting caught in a down pour during a spell of winter camping... In Switzerland, they used to use nettles as a detox in the spring & may still do.

Haven't used ice cube trays for herbs before, but our Jekka book recommends it. Nettles would work very well in ice cube trays - or in little bundles like spinach. We used to hang them from the kitchen ceiling until we read that it's no good unless they dry out quickly - like over an aga... So the airing cupboard is best, with the door open slightly for ventilation. Drying them out in the dark is better for keeping their colour & nutrients. We've got an electric chopping machine for afterwards & stick them in a jar. When we run out, we end up buying them from the health shop... Which of course is crazy! So this year, we need to pick more!

We should freeze some soup for the winter, but tend to just eat it when it's made... I'm not keen on just nettle soup - sometimes gets a bit slimy, but they do work well in a pea soup with lots of mint & in a spicy potato dish like sag aloo, used in place of the spinach & with some grated creamed coconut... We also chop up the fresh leaves & just sprinkle them in salads & on pasta dishes. We have also juiced them, nice with other greens & some pineapple.

Our beer recipe originates from a book we have called 'A Country Cup'. You'll need: 3lb sugar, 2 gal cold water, 1 pailful of young nettle tops, 3 or 4 handsful of young dandelion, 3 or 4 handsful of goosegrass (sticky willy), 2oz bruised ginger & 1oz dried yeast. Then boil the plants for 10 mins then strain on to the sugar in a stone crock. Stir until sugar has dissolved & when lukewarm, add the yeast. Cover & leave in a warm place for about 5 to 7 days, then siphon off into clean screw top bottles, adding 1 tsp sugar to each. Leave until clear.

Our recipe has evolved from this & Sime will do a post at some point, but this is a good one to start with.

Hope you can make sense of this!

Have fun!

Kay :)
The Smiths said…
Hi Gai - We were told it wasn't possible, but it is!

Kay :)
The Smiths said…
Hi Karin, They are quite like spinach - quite strong, earthy & irony, so I prefer them in a dish with a sweet flavour like carrots or coconut. Saying that - I love nettle tea first thing in the morning & find it very comforting...

If you do try them - just use the leaves & add a tbsp or 2 of chopped nettles to start with. Will be interested to know what you think...

Kay :)
The Smiths said…
Thanks Kath, if you just take the leaves, they should grow back again quite quickly.

Kay :)
The Smiths said…
Thanks Catherine that's very sweet, but it was probably just the angle Sime had the camera... Hahaha!

Kay :)
The Smiths said…
Hi Kath - I hate it when there's bits, like celery sometimes when it doesn't blend!

I've updated the recipe to make it a bit clearer, but hope you enjoyed the taste!

Kay :)
The Smiths said…
Thanks Dreamer - I think nettles are just a bit slimy on their own & much nicer with something sweeter. Have a look at my reply to Pattypan for more ideas - look forward to seeing the photos!

Like I've said to Karin, start with just a tbsp or 2 in a recipe - otherwise it might be too much...

Enjoy!

Kay :)
The Smiths said…
Thanks Becky - nettle soup is pretty bland & slimy, so much nicer in a carrot or pea soup! Our Nettle & Ginger beer is very good too!

Kay :)
Kath said…
I think I need more practice, I over did the ginger :-O
Mrs Thrifty said…
Wonderful post - thank you xx
freerangegirl said…
What a great recipe - i agree they're much better added to a soup than on their own. I made nettle beer a couple of years ago which all exploded with fantastic force - never got to taste it but it was quite a sight!
The Smiths said…
Thanks Mrs Thrifty!

Kay :)
The Smiths said…
Thank you Freerangegirl & welcome to our blog, what a shame about your beer - such a disappointment. We use a barrel more than bottles, but if it explodes it usually means you've put too much sugar into the bottles. We've had a couple of dud brews over the years from not adding enough sugar & putting the yeast in too late...

Kay :)

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