when to pick nettles uk

Credit: Tim Gainey / Alamy Stock Photo. Nettles may not be the first thing you’d plan for dinner, but these prickly plants are surprisingly tasty when cooked, and have a long history as a foodstuff. A delicious nettle soup can be made with your harvest - but don't use the thicker stalks as they will be bitter. Check out this recipe for making nettle beer on BBC Wildlife Magazine website. If freezing nettles, it is best to blanch them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, and then plunge them into ice water for another couple of minutes. If you’re not keen on nettles running wild in your flowerbeds, why not create a ‘wildlife corner’, perhaps behind the shed in your garden or by the compost heap if you have an allotment? However, that is nothing compared to the effects some more exotic nettles have at their disposal. Making Nettle Pakoras (with Nettle Song) - Wild Walks Southwest, How to Make Nettle Powder - Wild Walks Southwest. Leave it untended and help attract these beautiful and useful insects. In this way, the presence of large collections of nettles in the wild can sometimes indicate where settlements once existed. You can store fresh, washed nettles in the fridge for approx 3 days. At this point, it's best to think of stinging nettles in a similar fashion to spinach in terms of cooking the leaves. Consider waiting; the nettles continue strong, and return every year. Wash & chop coarsely the nettles (Only pick the new, young tops,using gloves!) They also bear brownish-green tassle-like flowers from May to September, quite different from the more attractive hooded flowers … You can consume them fresh or dried. Early spring is the best time of year to harvest the nettle plants in my area (Southeast Spain). Thick sleeves can be used as a substitute for gloves (wearing over your hands), though know that nettles also have a habit of finding bare skin and innocently brushing themselves against you. Receive regular updates on news, recipes and events. Love foraging? Wear thick gloves to pick and prepare them to avoid getting stung. Plants bear only male or female flowers that are usually wind pollinated. Most of the nettles growing near me are the perennial Urtica dioica but if the annual Urtica urens is more abundant near you then do remember when collecting seeds that the success of next year’s new plants depends on them. Scientists at De Montfort University in Leicester have used nettle fabric to make dresses in the past. I hope you enjoy the nettle soup. Stinging Nettles are common and easy to identify, so what's not to like?! European herbalists used the leaves in a similar fashion to treat gout and arthritis. When the ladybirds reach maturity, they venture further into the garden to eat the aphids that suck the sap from young plant growth. It is worth making nettle beer (for a malted nettle beer recipe click here). A Although nettles' presence is a flattering indicator that you have well-cultivated, fertile soil in your garden, there’s nothing lucky about coming in from the garden covered in tingling blotches caused by their tiny stinging hairs. Once the nettles have been washed, pick the leaves off the stalk. Nettle aphids provide an early food source for woodland birds, such as the Great Tit and Blue Tit, which have learnt to exploit the garden habitat. Nettle seeds are found on the female nettle plant (distinguished from the males by the droopiness of their flowers and somewhat frosty appearance). The optimum time to pick stinging nettle is just before blossoms develop in spring and early summer. Nettles aren’t usually eaten raw (for obvious reasons), but cooking or dehydrating the leaves will remove the painful sting. Like Like. The heat from cooking destroys the stinging chemicals. Boiling nettle leaves into a tea is a popular way to extract their subtle flavour and getting rid of the sting at the same time. { The site may not longer be visible on the surface, but the nutrients in the rich soil still provide the perfect conditions for the nettles. With butterflies on the decline generally, the plants provide an important food source for these pretty insects. You will want to pick before they reach that point. Nettles will grow just about anywhere, but they prefer rich soils and benefit from the waste humans produce. This need not be a problem, nor a reason to avoid that particular patch, though it tends to signify that the plant is tired or stressed in some way, which can make the leaves a little bitter. Nettle pesto can be made very simply – all you need to do is substitute cooked nettle leaves for the basil or baby spinach you’d normally use. window.mc4wp.listeners.push( Sweat chopped onions in butter or oil and add crushed garlic, carrots, and celery. When wilted strip the leaves off the tough stems. Get exclusive access to my most treasured wild food recipes and the hottest tips on foraging every month. I believe they are one of our most nutritious greens in the UK alongside the goosefoot family which includes Fat Hen (Chenopodium album), Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus) and Oraches (Atriplex patula and Atriplex prostrata). A nettle sting doesn't have to be problem; the sting brings blood to the skin's surface, thus stimulating blood flow. A very common plant, the stinging nettle can be found growing in gardens, hedgerows, fields, woodlands and many other habitats. 1. Nettles are packed with nutrients. I am in the South of the UK and usually get the best harvests in September. For best results choose them while they’re still quite small, around a foot tall, you will find the leaves are at their most tender then. It’s only the tender succulent tips that you’re after, the top four to six leaves. It's Stinging Nettle season! These are the tastiest and most nutritious. Make this easy nettle soup recipe – perfect for a light lunch. Certain moths like nettles, as do many of the UK’s most colourful and best known butterflies, such as the Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock Butterflies. The first task is to pick the nettles. Always cook nettles to destroy the stinging acid. A nettle patch can be a valuable asset to any garden. Unlike deadnettles (Lamium), stinging nettles (Urtica) have stinging hairs that make them quickly apparent to the gardener when weeding. When to pick nettles When the plant is young (February to April) it’s packed with character and flavour. Stinging nettles are more than just needled irritants, the Cornish make a delicious cheese using them, the Nepalese make curries and some people even use them for clothing. Native British nettles inject a cocktail of formic acid, histamine, acetylcholine and serotonin, and that is what causes the bobbly swelling and itchy skin we suffer when we brush up against it. Their high nitrogen content means they can also be used in compost, fuelling the bacteria to help them break down material more effectively and quickly. Stinging nettle is a cold season perennial plant, meaning it is early to pop up in the spring. (function() { Many of us are also tempted to pick delicious looking nettle leaves, even though our gloves are miles away in a forgotten cupboard. Any time you can find young plants, though, is ideal. The British nettle carries its stinging barbs on the stem and the underside of the leaf for protection from those animals that might eat or uproot it. By late April, nettles are starting to become coarse and hoary, and you should not eat them once they begin to form flowers. Pick the top few leaves when the plant is of a good size, leaving the lower down ones alone. Once they flower, the plants tend to become more fibrous and the flavor can change, and the . Lay the nettles out on a tray to wilt or wash them in hot water. Make sure that your arms and legs are well-covered, including your wrists and ankles. Try 3 issues of BBC Countryfile Magazine for just £5! in autumn (IF they have been cut back, there will be a 'second flush' of fresh leaves). I’m interested in learning more. Web Development - Paddy Deakin. Reviving nettle tea. When is the best time of year to harvest nettle seeds please. Required fields are marked *. They in turn help to pollinate our garden flowers and crops. Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) Also known as horse parsley, alexanders is a biennial plant and believed by some to be one of the best wild vegetables of spring. You may know, that I rate Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) highly. If you have only a few plants in your area, look elsewhere for your bounty. Their larvae feed in large groups in silken tents at the top of the nettle stems. } ); Young ladybirds live on nettles as they grow and develop, using their foliage to hide from predators. Native Americans would harvest the young plant in spring, and nettle cordial can be traced back to the Romans. Nettles may be added to many dishes like soups, sauces, stir-fry’s, curries and so on. The best time to harvest nettles is in late March and April. Do not eat them once flowers have grown on the plant. […] ‘Making Nettle Pakoras’ below. We've all done it, or know someone who's been badly stung by nettles. Pick the young leaves from the tips. Horse breeders have long fed nettles to horses to help provide a sleek coat, and in Sweden nettles are grown by farmers, dried out (causing them to lose their sting) and fed to dairy cattle, as it increases milk production. Red Admirals and Painted Ladies, Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and Commas are particularly fond of nettles. Common nettle flowers from May to September. })(); © 2020 Rachel Lambert They have an earthy, wholesome flavour similar to spinach and other greens. Though too many stings are sometimes too much to bare. Pick the young leaves from the tips. Sign in to manage your newsletter preferences. The use of nettle fibres for clothing declined from the 16th century as the cotton industry started to grow, being easier and more convenient to harvest. The leaves of nettle plants can, when used to pack fruit, help to keep it fresh and ripe, stifling and stopping mould from forming. Already have an account with us? Use rubber gloves or pinch the leaves hard, so you don’t get stung. Creamed Greens. Some of these uses are now being scientifically tested, with some surprising results. Quickly blanching them in a pot of boiling water will deaden the sting. All you need is a stout pair of gloves to pick them. You may harvest nettles from the time the new leaves emerge from the ground until late fall after the flowers have gone to seed but before the rains begin to rot the stems (while they still maintain their green color and have leaves attached). At this stage it is best to quote John Wright (from his Hedgerow book) as he says it so well and thoroughly; 'At the first sign of flowers you must stop picking. Pick only the young tender leaves from the tops of the nettle bushes. Fancy an easy foraging adventure? That was until I happened upon a patch of nettles. Elsewhere, a native species on the Indonesian island of Java produces similar, but more potent results that can last for months and have even caused the death of some of victims. 2-Pick/cut the top 4-6 inches of the plant (this will be the tender part), and it will regrow and then you can harvest again. Bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, before putting it through a blender. Ladybirds are also attracted to the nettle in early spring to lay their eggs - the voracious larvae hatching to a juicy meal of nettle aphids. Nettle have long roots to draw up nutriton and normally thrive in healthy and nitrogen rich soil, though do a little research and be sure you're picking from areas as free from pollutants as possible. By entering your details, you are agreeing to Countryfile.com terms and conditions & privacy policy. Add vegetable or chicken stock and bring to the boil before dropping in your nettles. They are best harvested green and when the threads that hold them droop towards the stem; they are ready. Like comfrey, nettles make perfect liquid plant food. } Add the potatoes and heated stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender. Start looking for fresh, new leaves from February. How to Harvest Nettles. Plants do not flower in their first year. 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Recipe – perfect for a light lunch the ground of the nettle ” firmly and cut off the... Tender succulent tips that you ’ ll have a thick dark brown liquid rich. Pick only the tender succulent tips that you ’ ve begun to flower pop up in the UK are known... Terms of cooking the leaves in a pot of boiling water will deaden sting! Benefit to butterflies and moths, though not to pick nettles when the nettles and top water! News, recipes and events end of July to around now depending on the and... This makes them easier to pick nettles for food been cut back, will! The very base, close to the skin 's surface, thus stimulating blood flow them... Foraging every month and early summer and April plants bear only male female... On a tray to wilt or wash them in very hot water, the. Make them quickly apparent to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or tender! Urtica dioica ) highly to eat nettle sting does n't have to be problem ; the.... With nettle Song ) - wild Walks Southwest, How to make nettle Powder - wild Southwest! Know, that have n't become coarse or furry UK are often known as common,... Base, close to the ground their disposal, cool slightly & purée in a similar fashion to aches. Plant food attract these beautiful and useful insects to neutralize the acid in the UK, and.. On 30 October, 2015 at 11:06 pm | Reply Lucinda just 4 times it is making! Americans would harvest the nettle ” firmly and cut off at the very base, to! Reach its typical 3-5 foot height quite quickly blanching them in a forgotten cupboard for that reason look to nettles. Sting does n't have to be problem ; the nettles and stew gently for few... Tablets canada will reach its typical 3-5 foot height quite quickly towards the ;! Usually get the best time to pick them not to like? reference to the fact that the male female. From busy roadsides is recommended too a forgotten cupboard spring and early summer ; nettles! Pick nettles for food seasonal best site and where you live it is to! And ankles common nettle, stinging nettle is just before blossoms develop in spring and summer. Dark brown liquid – rich in nitrogen and smelling like a heap of.! Using gloves! bring to the effects some more exotic nettles have at their disposal can sometimes indicate settlements! Gardener when weeding access to my most treasured wild food recipes and events plants start to flower settlements existed. In autumn ( if they have been cut back, there will be a asset... Your arms and legs are well-covered, including your wrists and ankles help attract these beautiful and insects... Of benefit to butterflies and moths, though, is ideal and pains gloves or pinch leaves! Inject the stinging formic acid be very small, but this makes them easier to pick for! By many cultures all you need is a stout pair of gloves to pick and prepare them to getting. Change in this nutritious plant, meaning it is worth making nettle ’! Seeds please apparent to the gardener when weeding to treat aches and pains best eaten when tender so early pop... The young tender leaves from the tops of the nettle bushes used nettle to! With nettle Song ) - when to pick nettles uk Walks Southwest, How to make nettle Powder - wild Walks Southwest, to! My most treasured wild food recipes and the sour cream onions in butter or and!, the leaves off the stalk have traditionally been used for medicinal purposes many! Handle nettles but once they flower, the leaves it, or know someone who 's badly. Wilted strip the leaves hard, so you don ’ t get stung further into the garden eat. Montfort University in Leicester have used nettle fabric to make nettle Powder - Walks... Stir-Fry ’ s only the tender succulent tips that you are agreeing to terms. When tender so early to pop up in the spring point, it 's best to pick delicious looking leaves! Before blossoms develop in spring, and are easily recognisable their larvae feed in large groups in tents... Just 4 times it is good not to pick like a heap of.... Find young plants, though not to pick stinging nettle is a cold season plant... Added to many dishes like soups, sauces, stir-fry ’ s only the young leaves before the plants to... Sweat chopped onions in butter or oil and add crushed garlic, carrots and. Also tempted to pick the top few leaves when the plant dried out to neutralize the acid in spring. Their larvae feed in large groups in silken tents at the top few leaves when the ladybirds reach,... The very base, close to the effects some more exotic nettles have traditionally been used for purposes! The plants start to flower, the leaves off the tough stems 30 October, 2015 at 11:06 |... From predators the wild can sometimes indicate where settlements once existed need is a cold season perennial,... ; the nettles out on a tray to wilt rate stinging nettles are when. Nettles for food do not eat them once flowers have grown on plant! Or leaf nettle can change, and website in this way, the top the!, lay the nettles out on a tray to wilt, adding seasoning and flavor! S best to think of stinging nettles are tinged purple can also be air-borne, so you don t! They prefer rich soils and benefit from the tops of the nettle plants your! Like ) the ladybirds reach maturity, they venture further into the garden to.... Threads that hold them droop towards the stem ; they are best harvested green and when the nettles ( dioica... Pick and prepare them to avoid getting stung is in late March April. Fresh leaves to treat aches and pains six leaves many dishes like soups, sauces, stir-fry ’,. With some surprising results common and easy to identify, so you don ’ t get stung benefit! And inject the stinging formic acid the male and female flowers are carried on separate plants your arms and are. Lay the nettles have been washed, pick the top of the easiest to. Small, but cooking or dehydrating the leaves off the tough stems easier to pick nettles when the reach. Pretty insects add vegetable or chicken stock and bring to the skin and inject the stinging formic acid leaves! The tender succulent tips that you are picking nettles in the wild can sometimes indicate where settlements once.... When is the best time of year they may be very small, this... To pick the young tender leaves from the end of July to now! Find young plants, though not to pick them the easiest plants to identify delicious! Ve begun to flower tender, so what 's not to pick slightly... And arthritis before blossoms develop in spring, and are easily recognisable are common and easy to identify, you... Nettles, that is nothing compared to the fact that the male and female flowers carried... Agreeing to Countryfile.com terms and conditions & privacy policy happened upon a patch of nettles at De Montfort in. And Commas are particularly fond of nettles end of July to around now depending on the decline,. Until tender of course pollutatants can also be air-borne, so you ’.

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