Saturday, February 9, 2013

Wildcrafting Nettles

Yesterday I escaped with a friend for a much needed excursion to our favorite spot to pick stinging nettles.  A nice gentle hike meandering along the creek was healing and long overdue.  The nettles were not very high but flourishing and plentiful with their leaves unfolding in the sunshine.  The thing I love most about nettles is how they sing.  If you are present, you can feel their vibration as you sit with them, they sing all around you.  Before we began filling our bags we hiked further down the trail to the ocean...what a magnificent day!

When we harvest nettles we try to take only the leafy tops, especially this early in the season.  The plants will continue to grow and if we like, we can go back every few weeks for more throughout the spring. For better or worse, my hands have become so tough from all the farm chores, the nettles barely stung me.  The plants at this time of year are particularly potent as the energy is concentrated in the newly emerging leaves.  Nettles has a variety of uses you can read more about here.  

Once back home the nettles were rinsed and dried in the dehydrator for later use as tea.  I did have plans to add some fresh nettles to my sauerkraut today.  So after clipping all the leaves from the stems and giving them a good wash, I used the mortar and pestle to smash the leaves just enough so they would release their juice and not sting while I mixed the kraut by hand.  

My experiments resulted in two different versions...purple cabbage kraut with fresh nettles and some organic nettle leaf powder for an extra kick...

...and sea kraut with green cabbage, fresh nettle, grated ginger, kombu, and dulse flakes.  I still have a big bag left which may end up as either an invigorating green pesto or a nice stimulating nettle, red clover glycerite.  Spring is almost here, it's all about cleansing, blood building, nourishing, and rejuvenating.  Out with the old and in with the new!

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