Nettles grow quite abundantly in Saanich and are rich in vitamins A, C, D and also high in calcium, magnesium and iron. (Photo submitted)

LOCAL FLAVOUR: Taking the sting out of nourishing nettles

Linda Geggie

For the Saanich News

When you think of nettles you might first balk at the stinging part of the plant and want to give them a wide berth. But think again.

This local flavourful plant is rich in vitamins A, C, D and also high in calcium, magnesium and iron. Although you won’t find them in the grocery store, you might might think of them more along the lines of some of the usual suspects like kale and other leafy greens that you find there.

Nettles grow quite abundantly in Saanich. I was happy to discover a patch growing along our driveway. You can generally find nettles in disturbed areas, especially along paths and roadways. You might also see them in clearings and along waterways. It is the leaves that are generally harvested.

Nettle leaves are best to eat until they flower, which is usually in the summer. They are most tender in March and April, but the way this spring is going I am going to bet we are going to be harvesting them well into May and June.

If you are feeling game to try them and you haven’t harvested them before it is good to know how to do so safely. It is important to wear gloves because of tiny hairs that can sting your hands. I would recommend using scissors to cut off the top six leaves or so on each plant. If you look at the stalk the leaves grow in pairs on either side. Just cut off the top, then the plant can continue to grow.

Then, still wearing your gloves you can wash and drain them and carefully remove the stems. If you heat, dry or freeze the nettles it gets rid of the hairs that sting so don’t worry you will not get any nasty surprises with that first mouthful.

I generally take the leaves and boil them for a few minutes until the greens have wilted. Then you can drain them and either chop them up right then or store them for up to about five days in the refrigerator in an airtight container. You can use the chopped up leaves in just about everything from omelettes to putting on pizza. The options are really quite limitless. I have heard everything from steaming nettles to eat like spinach, to making nettle pesto, nettle tea, putting nettles in soups and stews, and even nettle hummus or nettle beer.

WSANEC elder Anna Spahan advised that nettle tonics have been used for generations for keeping hair healthy and to maintain its colour. You can boil the nettles in water and then use the water to rinse your hair. It is said that nettles are a natural remedy for grey hair. If you google nettles you will also see that there are many medicinal uses for nettle and it is used to treat everything from arthritis to eczema to anemia.

When we think of our foods we think about the grocery store or our gardens but we can also be grateful for, and celebrate plants like nettle. Nettles are both nutritious and medicinal and a great example of what nature so generously provides for us. Be adventurous and give them a try.

Linda Geggie is the executive director with the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable and can be reached at lgeggie@cfair.ca.

Just Posted

Penelakut filmmaker Steve Sxwithul’txw finds success in film and TV

Cop-turned-storyteller reaches back to his past for Tribal Police Files

Choir offers a capella take on Beatles hits

Soundings will perform concerts in Oak Bay and Sidney May 24 and 25

VIDEO: Scorpion found in B.C. woman’s kitchen finds new home in Victoria

The Victoria Bug Zoo welcomed the scorpion on Saturday

B.C. getting less bang for its buck

B.C.’s CPI topped 2.7 per cent in April 2019, compared to two per cent for all of Canada

VIDEO: Horseshoe pitching association appeals to Greater Victora youngsters

Youth horseshoe pitching club offers fun for all ages, says GVHPA

Update: Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Vancouver Island MusicFest: ‘House bands’ from the golden age of rock and R&B

Some of America’s greatest session musicians are coming to the Comox Valley this summer

Former B.C. Greyhound bus drivers head to Penticton for goodbye party

Big bash runs until Sunday, funded by drink cans left behind on busses over the years

Boy, 12, arrested after allegedly pulling a knife on another child at a Surrey park

The child was later released into his parents’ custody as Surrey RCMP continue their investigation

Full-scale search underway for missing kayaker on Okanagan Lake

Kelowna Paddle Centre member Zygmunt Janiewicz, 71, failed to return from his ‘daily kayak’ on the lake

Bucks hammer Raptors 125-103 to take 2-0 playoff series lead

Toronto heads home in a hole after second loss to Milwaukee

Most Read