You may have already seen the prickly leaves in our produce section. And just this week, we added nettle tea to our cafe menu. But you probably haven't yet cooked up some nettle soup, or tried a nettle-tea latte – and here's why you should!
Folk wisdom, and the Internet, suggest that there are many health benefits for nettle tea. We can't speak for all the claims, but there is some evidence in support of nettle's traditional uses, and the best thing to do is try it for yourself! Nettle tea is often used as a “detoxifying” diuretic, and as an aid for arthritis pain. Many people drink a cup a two or day to help with skin conditions, and as a way to lower blood pressure. Also, you should know that many swear by nettle tea as a way to treat allergy symptoms.
We sell fresh nettle for cooking, too! Be sure to wear gloves when preparing fresh leaf – otherwise you will get stung. But the leaves are perfectly safe once cooked, and if you're looking to eat healthy, nettle is worth the hassle. According to Livestrong.com, ten grams of spinach offers a paltry 10 mg of calcium and 8 mg of magnesium – but the same amount of nettle boasts 290 mg of calcium and 86 mg of magnesium! Happily, these minerals occur in nettle tea, too. And both nettle leaf and tea contain vitamins A, C, and K, plus B-vitamins riboflavin, niacin, and folate. Nettle also contains high levels of protein, fiber, and many minerals, including zinc, ironic, magnesium, and more. All this information may be little overwhelming, but the point is – it's good for you!
We're excited to offer our nettle tea, which is made with local nettle, dried in small batches, and available iced or hot. Not sure what flavor to expect? It's definitely a “green” taste, but not overpowering. With honey and milk, it tastes a lot like a matcha latte, without the caffeine!
Wondering how to cook with nettles? To start, it's easy to include nettles anywhere that you might use cooked spinach – in soups, pizzas, omelets, or pasta dishes. While wearing gloves, discard the stems and boil the leaves for 3-4 minutes. Drain, and if you like, throw into ice water to stop the cooking process. You can then use them in your recipes, or store in a container for later use.
Is there any reason to be careful with nettle? Pregnant and breast-feeding women might want to avoid it, as it can have powerful effects. And people with diabetes or low blood pressure may want to ask a doctor, or proceed with caution.
Nettles have a springtime harvest, so like many of our products it is only available seasonally. Come and try some while it's here!
Try this easy and delicious Nettle and Green Garlic Soup from Food 52!
1 tablespoon butter
1 small leek
2-3 stalks green garlic
1 medium russet potato, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 quart water or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 bunch nettles (~1/2 pound)
regular or greek yogurt (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter until foamy. Add leeks and green garlic, stir. Sauté for 5-6 minutes until soft. Add potato, water or stock and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, simmer for 15 minutes or until potato is fork-tender.
Meanwhile, remove the nettle leaves from the stem and rinse to clean. Wear gloves! Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop cleaned nettle leaves in the pot. Cook for 2 minutes. Drain and quickly put nettles in a bowl of cold water for 30 seconds. Remove and drain again.
When soup is ready, add nettle leaves and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender, blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve soup with dollops of yogurt, if desired.
-- Post by Rose Miller