May in Sweden means an abundance of emerging, young stinging nettles, if you know where to find them. When they're young and tiny, they don't sting, at least not so much, and the taste is delicious.
Nettles are very versatile and have been used for a very long time all over the world.
Quoted from Wikipedia:
”Stinging Nettle has a flavour similar to spinach when cooked, and is rich in vitamins A, C, D, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Young plants were harvested by Native Americans and used as a cooked plant in spring when other food plants were scarceA soup made from the young shoots is considered a spring delicacy in Sweden. Cooking or drying completely neutralizes the toxic components found in this plant. Stinging Nettle should not be consumed after it enters its flowering and seed setting stages, as the leaves develop gritty particles called "cystoliths" which can irritate the urinary tract.
Soaking nettles in water will remove the stinging chemicals from the plant, which allows them to be handled and eaten without incidence of stinging. Young leaves generally have a better taste than older, more bitter leaves.
Nettles can be used in a variety of recipes, such as polenta and pesto. Nettle soup (or Nässelsoppa in Swedish, Nokkoskeitto in Finnish) is a common use of the plant, particularly in Northern Europe. Young nettle leaves are similar in texture to spinach and other leafy greens, and can be substituted for or mixed with other greens in recipes.
Nettles are the highest known vegetable source of protein: 40%, higher than meat or fish.”
Besides from cooking, nettles can also be used for various medical purposes, making textiles and for fertilizing (see below!) among many other things. Nettles also make excellent nurseries for butterflies, that's another good reason to keep them in your garden.Nettlette – omelette with nettles
Lunch for 1
Appr. 0,5 liter/2 cups young nettle leaves
1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
grated parmesan or grana padana
herbs if desired
greens and veggies on the side
- Rinse the nettles thoroughly and remove any coarse stems. Remove as much water as possible with a towel or a salad spinner. Chop them into smaller pieces.
- Sizzle the onion and garlic a couple of minutes in the oil. Add the nettles and cook a couple of minutes more on low heat. Make an omelette batter or just add the eggs and stir a bit to break the yolks. Add the cheese and herbs (if any) on top and cook until the omelette is ready.
- Eat with greens and/or veggies of your choice.
Make your own nettle water
Nettle water is high in nitrogen and can be used as fertilizer, it also strengthens the plant cell walls which makes the plant more resistent to fungus diseases.
- Put 1 kg/2,2 lb fresh nettles in 10 litres/2,6 gallons water.
- Let soak for 1 week.
- Dilute to 10 %, i.e. use 1 litre/1 quart nettle water to 10 litres/2,6 gallons fresh water.
- Apply the nettle water by watering or spraying the plants.
- Watch it grow!