Nettles are packed with nutrients, especially high in beneficial vitamins and minerals – Vitamins A, B Complex, C & K, along with Potassium, Calcium and Iron.
The best nettles to forage are the young leaves in spring. They are far more tender, tasty and packed with nutrients. Older leaves can be eaten, but will be tougher and lower in nutrients.
Pick the young leaves from the tips of the plant. Pinch the leaves hard to minimise the risk of being stung, or use gloves.
Forage nettles away from roadsides to avoid excess dirt and pollution. And next to public pathways, forage from plants up out of the range of dog pee!
As with all foraging, be 100% sure of your plant ID, and always forage responsibly and sustainably.
Nettle Fruit Leathers
- Steep the nettles in 100 mls freshly boiled water,
2. Then strain, leaving the nettle leaves as pulp, and keep the liquid to one side for another recipe or to drink as tea.
3. Cut and core the apples and pears then put in to a large pan with the lemon juice.
4. Add the water to the pan, along with the nettle pulp. (The water strained from the nettles can be used at this point if not being used for another recipe, it will just give you a stronger flavour).
5. Gently cook until the fruit is soft.
6. Add the dried ginger and honey if desired.
7. Remove from the heat, then puree the fruit and nettle combination with a hand blender. If you are using a jug blender then leave the mixture to cool first.
8. Line a large baking tray with baking paper, then pour the puree onto the baking paper, using the back of a spoon to smooth it out so it’s an even thickness.
9. Place in to a cold oven, then turn the oven on low. You are aiming to dry out the mixture rather than cook it so keep the oven on its lowest setting.
10. This can take 8-10 hours, depending on your oven and the juice content of the fruit.
11. Once fully dried, place in the fridge until completely cooled, this will make it easier to cut.
12. Remove from the tray, turn over, then peel the baking paper off of the fruit leather.
13. Cut into strips or bite size squares, which ever you prefer.
Lemon & Nettle Cake
This stunning, light green cake can be an eye catching desert or to fuel your adventures, all while sneaking in some extra nutrients! This cake can either cooked in layers and iced, as cupcakes, or a traybake to be cut up as a portable snack.
If you’re not icing this cake then mix 1 desert spoon of sugar with the juice of 1 lemon, then drizzle this sweet mixture over the cake when it is hot out of the oven.
- Preheat the oven at 180c,
- Line a brownie baking tray, (or cupcake tray)
- Steep the nettle leaves in boiling water for a few minutes,
- Then, drain and blend with a hand blender, this leaves you with an un-appetising green pulp, but it gets a lot better!
- In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar,
- Then add the eggs and vanilla extract combining well,
- Next add in the flour, baking powder and lemon zest.
- Bring together into a nice batter, then add the nettles and lemon juice, blend well with a hand held mixer or keep folding in with a wooden spoon.
- Pour the mixture into the brownie tin or cake cases, then place in the oven
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until you can poke in a knife and it comes out clean.
- Leave in the tray to cool, but while hot out of the oven pour over the drizzle glaze and spread it across the top of the cake for a sweet topping.
- You can make this cake as beautiful or as rustic as you like, but this does taste great either way – especially out in the woods, with a coffee and a campfire.
This recipe can be adapted during the seasons by simply adding nuts or foraged fruits to add extra nutrients and texture.
- Heat the oil in a large pan, and add the onion, leek, garlic and apple over a low heat. Sweat for 10 minutes.
- Add the nettles and a little stock, stirring until they wilt, then add the rest of the stock and stir.
- Season with a little salt and plenty of pepper.
- Remove from heat and puree with a blender until you reach your chosen consistency.
- Serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley.
This recipe works well with a blob of natural yogurt or toasted walnuts.
There are two methods here – If using a pestle and mortar, finely chop the leaves first, then grind and mix together small quantities at a time.
But if you have a food processor – place the leaves & nuts in to the food processor, just pulse enough to finely chop, but not so long that you are just left with mush!
In a separate bowl, mix together the blitzed leaves with the olive oil, parmesan and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Refreshing Nettle Cordial-
- Strain the nettle tea, (keep the nettle pulp for another recipe) pour the nettle tea into a large pan,
- Add the fresh ginger, lime juice & lemon slices and gently bring to the boil.
- Once boiling, mix in the agave nectar or honey, stir well,
- Remove from the heat and leave to cool over night,
- Strain to remove any remaining pulp, and the lemon and ginger slices.
Serve over ice with fresh lemon and lime slices, or pour into a sterilised glass bottle and store in the fridge for another day.
- Preheat the oven at 200c,
- You’ll need a large baking tray with a sheet of baking paper on,
- Sieve the flour into a large bowl, add in the cream of tartar, salt & bicarbonate of soda,
- Crumble in the feta and then rub together with the flour,
- Finely chop the chives and mix through,
- Mix through the finely chopped nettles, use a spoon for this part.
- Pour in the milk, stirring with a spoon to bring together into a dough.
- Once combined, use your hands to form into a smooth ball – be careful not to overwork the dough.
- On a floured surface roll the dough out until 2cm thick, then use cookie cutters to cut the scone rounds.
- Brush with milk and sprinkle with grated cheese.
- Put in the oven for 15-20 minutes until risen and golden
Serve warm with butter, or leave to cool, wrap and take them on adventures or for a quick lunch when working in the woods. If you fancy a double helping of these nutrient rich greens, then serve the scones with the soup!
Remember to always forage responsibly and safely, being 100% sure of your plant ID! And be sure to enjoy the different recipes, whether eaten at home, or shared together around the camp fire.