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Friday, July 20, 2012 3:31 PM
“Stinging nettles? You mean that ghastly weed that stings when you touch it?”
However, the sting is rendered inactive once it is exposed to hot water or steam. Once the sting is removed we can really appreciate the many wonders of this plant.
It is easy to grow and gives two good crops a year – one in spring and one in autumn.
- A perennial herb that resembles a huge mint. The whole plant is downy and covered with stinging hairs.
- Is high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, trace minerals, chlorophyll and B vitamins- therefore a great dietary source!
- Is a nourishing tonic that can be taken as a water infusion (helps reduce spring allergies, nourish and support the kidneys, improve digestion and also helps with menopause.
- Another way to take Nettles is to eat it. Steamed it makes a delicious nutritious food. Young spring (not Autumn as leaves are gritty from the abundance of crystals they contain) nettles steamed and liberally dressed with butter is a great side dish for any meal. Young nettles can also be used in soups, stews and sauces that will be used in lasagne and spaghetti dishes.
- A good compost enricher with its high iron and calcium, nettle can be identified as a Woman’s Herb. Can help reduce haemorrhaging at any time when a woman loses lots of blood in childbirth etc. Is also famous for its ability to increase the richness and quality of breast milk.
- Has a long history of being woven into very durable textiles, net and linen. (In the 1st World War it was used a lot in army clothing) Its fibre is very similar to that of hemp or flax.
- To quote the early Scottish poet Campbell,
In Scotland, I have eaten Nettles. I have slept in nettle sheets and I have dined off a nettle tablecloth. The young and tender nettle is an excellent potherb. The stalks of the old nettle as flax for making are as good cloth…
- Urtication or flogging with nettles was an old remedy for chronic rheumatism and loss of muscle power
- The juice of the nettle will curdle milk providing the cheese maker with a good substitute for rennet.
- Also used in poultry feed to increase egg production
- A decoction of nettle yields a beautiful and permanent green dye and the roots boiled with alum produces a beautiful yellow colour.
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