From the Fat of the Land

Last week I set out for an exploratory morning walk and stumbled upon a stand of stinging nettle. Score! I taught kids at IslandWood last year all about stinging nettle, how it's considered to be "indian spinach" by the natives, how it makes great and nutritious tea, and showed them how to eat it raw. They were always impressed by that trick. I also treated a lot of nettle stings with baking soda, although they preferred the more traditional treatment of rubbing sword fern spores on the sting.

So when I stumbled upon this stinging nettle just a few minutes walk from my house, I knew what would be our dinner tonight. Armed with scissors, gloves and bags, we harvested two (half) bags of young nettle shoots (they turn deadly if you try to eat them as a mature plant!) . The longest process was removing the tender leaves from the tough stems. It took me about an hour. In order to neutralize the formic acid in the nettles, I blanched the leaves for about a minute. They cook down to super-small itty bitty things, but packed with iron, potassium, and Vitamin A.

I was tossing back and forth whether I should make nettle pesto or nettle soup. The soup won. I have to admit that although it was delicious, I couldn't eat very much of it. The nettle taste and texture was too intense for me. But the leftovers will make a delicious pasta sauce!

As for my next foraging target, I'm keeping my eye out for dandelion greens and miner's lettuce.

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© Reuben + ErinMaira Gall