I was at a friend's farm today collecting milk when I spotted AN ENORMOUS CLUMP OF NETTLES!
Oh yes. After all these years of avoiding nettles, I now travel with rubber gloves. Bonkers, maybe, but have you tried nettle tea?
I'm not going to pretend I'm some botanical expert who can tell you all the good things nettles bring your body. I googled it. I was sold. Apart from all those good things, it tastes great! I'm a big fan.
I've tried a number of ways of de-stinging nettles this past week. Always always use gloves to harvest them unless you're fond of that stinging feeling and each to their own of course. I don't use scissors, but you could.
I've poured boiling water over them and let them steep. I've frozen them. I've dried them in a low oven and I've soaked them in cold water. The last experiement, the cold water version, I plunged my hands in after just five minutes and they were still a tad stingy. Twenty minutes later though, not at all. Boiling water fries off the tiny stinging hairs immediately. As does drying.
They've been going into everything, but one of the tastiest was some homemade pasta for a family lunch on the weekend. I had an extremely excellent sous chef, my niece Georgia.
For pasta I use Jamie Oliver's principle of 100g flour per person plus and egg. Mix up and knead a bit then roll out (with a borrowed pasta maker, mine is in storage!) It's quick and simple and a five year old can make it.
For the ravioli filling we just mixed ricotta, coriander, nettles, sweet chilli sauce and salt.
My sister Naomi and I have been drinking nettle tea by the glassful. It's fabulous stuff. (And that raw grated beetroot, segmented orange and walnut salad was good too.)
If you have a minute, go have a look at what nettle claims to be a cure for. Arthritis. Rheumatism. Hair loss. Anemia. Thyroid issues. Bladder infections. Skin complaints.
Nettle tea. Even if it does nothing it tastes lovely, and if you put a slice of lemon in it it changes colour, something to do with the pH levels.