STINGING NETTLE PESTO + HOW TO PICK AND PREPARE NETTLES

So, how do you pick and prepare stinging nettles to transform them from those stinging plants you spent your whole childhood avoiding to green, super healthy and tasty food? It’s honestly not that hard.

Firstly, you will need something to pick them in. I used a 5L plastic bag but it would probably be better if you double it up since I still managed to get stung through the plastic. Then, a long sleeved top and gloves and you are set to go. Some people say that you can pick nettles without gloves, that it will stop hurting after a while. They lie. It hurts like hell. I switched over and used garden gloves with leather on the inside and they worked perfectly.

STINGING NETTLE PESTO + HOW TO PICK AND PREPARE NETTLES

The next step is to actually go and and pick some nettles. Try to choose the smaller plants since they are more tender (even if I don’t really feel the difference) and only pick the top leaves. Also, avoid plants that grow next to a heavily trafficked road or on contaminated soil (especially by nitric oxide). After picking the desired amount (keep in mind they reduce down to about 1/4 once cooked), leave the bag outside in the sun for an hour or so and all the bugs will crawl out of the bag.

STINGING NETTLE PESTO + HOW TO PICK AND PREPARE NETTLES

The next step is to prepare the nettles so they can be stored and used in cooking. Bring a large pot to a rapid boil and blanch the nettles for about 3-4 min. This will stop them from stinging and also destroy the formic acid in the nettles. Drain them and run them under cold water to stop the cooking process. When the nettles are completely cold, either use them in cooking right away or freeze them. I formed hand-sized ‘balls’ and froze them individually so I could get easy access to a smaller amount whenever I wanted.

STINGING NETTLE PESTO + HOW TO PICK AND PREPARE NETTLES

This recipe is perfect for using up those stinging nettles you so carefully picked and prepared. Perfect as a dressing for salads, together with pasta or maybe as a sauce to all of those BBQ that’s coming up.

Stinging nettle pesto

Ingredients;
2 ‘nettle-balls’
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 clove of garlic
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp chiliflakes
1/2 cup good quality olive oil

Do this;
Blitz everything in a food processor into a smooth paste, start with a smaller amount of oil and add in more as you go along so you get the consistency you want. Store covered in the fridge for up to a week. 

Stinging nettle pesto

6 Comments Add yours

  1. A_Boleyn says:

    How hungry did our ancestors have to be before someone got the bright idea to pick and cook these? My mom told me about them cooking these in Europe during WW2.

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    1. Such an interesting thought, wonder how many that got stung on their tongue before realising they need to cook them first?! It’s a shame we don’t make use of all the edible things in our garden 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A_Boleyn says:

        A lot of us are city dwellers and finding a place where we can buy or harvest our own nettles, dandelions, mushrooms or morels, fiddleheads, etc is just not going to happen.

        My parents roasted chicory roots as a coffee substitute or extender during the hard times of the war (they lived in the former Yugoslavia) and when I told them about visiting New Orleans where chicory coffee and beignets are served to eager customers they shook their heads in amazement. 🙂

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      2. That is true, I’ve always been spoiled with having nature around the corner…
        Haha, what a wonderful thing – from survival to a ‘it-thing’. We could probably learn so much from people like your grandparents, I can’t even imagine those things they experienced and they must have so much knowledge about nature and survival. Its amazing.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is outstanding ! I am so fascinated with this. This is real, eating from the land, and I love it. Nature really has so much to offer, and you have found a way with nettles and it is sooooooo cool. Everything looks wonderful. Your pic is absolutely gorgeous. Now to find nettles and I will be making your meal for sure 🙂 You are a star !!! 🙂

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    1. You are just such a sweetheart! My dad told me about my grandma always making nettle soup and then I wanted to know what nettles tasted like. I also love being able to make use of the things already growing in the garden. So cheap and so tasty! Than you so much for lighten up my day! xx

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