Friday, March 8, 2019

Exploring Nettles for Dinner

Image result for cooking with nettles
Last month I wrote about using nettles for making fabric. This month, I want to explore another use for this stinging weed that tormented my childhood, nettles as a food source.

I know! Eat a weed? But ... actually ... it's a very nutritious weed. They are rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, and full of vitamins C, A, and B complex. They also contain more protein than most green vegetables. The dried leaves are up to 25% protein!

Our Native American ancestors knew about nettles and not only ate them but used them as a medicine. Nettles are also well-known as a food source in much of Europe, even available for sale in certain types of groceries. 

But what do they taste like? I'll be honest, I haven't tried them - yet. But I read their taste described this way, "like the lovechild of spinach and an artichoke." That makes me curious!

If you 're brave enough to give this a try, it's recommended that you harvest the nettles in the early spring when they are sprouting, taking only the top three sets of leaves from each plant. (It's not recommended to harvest any after the plants have flowered.) The leaves are then used by themselves and cooked similar to spinach, or added to soups and stews. They can even be cooked and used in the making of noodles. The internet is full of recipes!

More in this series:
Exploring Nettles for Fabric
Exploring Nettles for Color
Exploring Nettles for Health

Pegg Thomas is an author and editor, but also a fiber artist of some *mumble* years. She raises sheep and spins their wool to create one-of-a-kind shawls and other useful items. While she mostly uses a modern-day production spinning wheel, she occasionally spins on a 200-year-old Great Wheel, a true piece of American history.


  1. I'm doing it! I'm too curious not to. Can't wait for your fiber experiment.

    1. Nice! My only problem is, I have to find a stand of nettles. They surrounded me growing up, but I've never come across a patch since we've lived here. Of course ... I am coming to Duluth this summer ... ;)

  2. Replies
    1. I'm so tempted to plant some of these "weeds" even though I know they'll spread like wildfire.

  3. Haven’t had nettles but a friend gives us lambs quarters. It tastes like spinach but it’s very tedious to wash and clean.

    1. I've heard they are good to eat but haven't tried them either.