Stinging Nettles are Delicious – and FREE!


One thing I love about England are Stinging Nettles. That’s right. Stinging Nettles.

nettle |ˈnetl|
a herbaceous plant that has jagged leaves covered with stinging hairs. • Genus Urtica, family Urticaceae: several species, in particular the Eurasian stinging nettle ( U. dioica).
• used in names of other plants of a similar appearance or properties, e.g., dead-nettle.

verb [ trans. ]
1 irritate or annoy (someone) : I was nettled by Alene’s tone of superiority.
2 archaic beat or sting (someone) with nettles.

ORIGIN Old English netle, netele, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch netel and German Nessel. The verb dates from late Middle English.

There are certain things, like dandelion greens and stinging nettles for example, that we know are edible, but which people seldom actually eat. For example, I have been around dandelions for 46 years. Yet I only ate my first feed of dandelion greens the other day. No doubt those of you who live where stinging nettles thrive, have heard that they are edible. But have you ever actually gone out in your garden, picked them, cooked them, and eaten them?

The other night I got a duck on sale, took it home and roasted it. When it came time to decide on vegetables to go with it, the grocery store was closed. My vegetable patch, apart from a profusion of runner beans and things that weren’t ready yet, didn’t inspire me. Then I remembered what I had heard about nettles. And I thought, “what the heck, let’s give it a go!” and proceeded to don my loooooooong rubber gloves, headed out to the garden and picked a big bag of nettles and dandelion greens (in for a penny in for a pound?).

i took them in the house, swished them around with my Nature Clean fruit and veggie wash* (being careful not to touch them** – in fact I did the swishing with a long-handled pasta stirrer), steamed them, threw some butter, salt and pepper on them, and with great trepidation . . . . took a bite.

Holy delicious Batman

An even higher level of OMG DELICIOUS  was attained when I dipped a forkful of the greens combo into the orange honey glaze that was on the duck. (That tasty recipe can be found here.  So I am sold. On stinging nettles.

And they are FREE. Bonus!!!!

I am really warming to the whole ‘Rubbish Chef’ and ‘food for free’ lifestyle. Suffice it to say that after supper when we went for a walk around our neighbourhood and I happened upon a pear tree (on PUBLIC land – yea!), I was dancing on air.

** Should you get stung by nettles, put milk on the sting. It takes the sting away incredibly fast!

*Like Red Rose Tea, this stuff is only available in Canada, although there is a similar product available here in the UK as well.


About Katherine

Reader, writer, gardener, camper, hiker, traveller. Cat lover that loves to cook. Married, mother of two fantastic twenty-somethings. INTJ, Canadian. Living in England (and loving it). Addicted to cookbooks. Sometimes cranky.

2 responses »

  1. I also love stinging nettles! They can grow up to five feet tall here in BC. We also dry the leaves and make a wonderful tisane from the nettle. It is definitely a spring time tonic after a long grey, wet winter. Hey Katherine try putting a few dandelion leaves in a salad, they also add a vitamin punch.
    “The leaves are more nutritious than anything you can buy. They’re higher in beta-carotene than carrots. The iron and calcium content is phenomenal, greater than spinach. You also get vitamins B-1, B-2, B-5, B-6, B-12, C, E, P, and D, biotin, inositol, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc by using a tasty, free vegetable that grows on virtually every lawn.” from
    Look at this site for more incredible free food!
    Love your website Katherine!

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