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62 responses to “Grasping the Nettle”

  1. Paula

    I am sooo going to find some nettle seeds online and sow them somewhere in the yard. Nettles are great for pulling various nutrients deep out of the soil and fertilizing your garden if you chuck them in the compost pile, or ferment them in rainwater.

    Your pasta looks really, really good. The only trouble I have with reading your blog is that I want to eat at your house.

  2. Cecilia

    I look forward to trying yoru recipes. Thanks for the post.

    With respect to the “fishy” smell/taste of your nettles–you know how fruits (grapes in particular) and vegetables pick up the character of the soil and air where they grow? Maybe that’s what happened with your nettles. The fishiness is specific to having grown in the “Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (where the San Francisco Bay is born) .” Perhaps?

  3. deana@lostpastremembered

    I’ve made stinging nettle soup… no guilt about that since I was once bitten wildly by a nettle patch… the squeezing part is new… and a pasta made with them???? Great idea!!!! I can’t wait to give it a try (FYI they grow all over the East Coast).

  4. Josh

    Paula, that is a great idea! By the way, they grow really well next to tomatoes, and when I had some volunteer up in a garden one year, they kept a lot of pests at bay, I believe, too!

    Cecilia, as the fella who picked these greens, that would be way cool. I’m from there… do I smell fishy, Hank? However, the musty smell from our Delta in the Winter isn’t so much fish as it is bogwater, a smell I love, but one I understand is acquired. Do I smell like bogwater, Hank? Cecilia, you’ve inadvertently made me self-conscious…

    I’m glad they worked out for you so well. I’m picking more this weekend for sure (or tomorrow). I’ll get you some, if you like.

  5. Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife

    This is our year for nettles. Tried them from seed last year. Apparently they have an unusually low germination rate. In any case, we got nothin’. A friend has offered to let me dig up half the patch her husband planted and has so far done nothing with. You can believe we’ll be on that. In the meantime, I’ve been thinking of doing something along the lines of your nettle noodles, but with arugula sylvetta instead. When that stuff comes in, it’s exuberant. I’ve made noodles with them before in a fresh state. But I think to really harvest that exuberance I’m also going to experiment with dehydrating a LOT of arugula sylvetta, so that I can make noodles with them in the dark months, this time next year. Anything green is such a treat at the moment.

  6. Crockett

    Do you know anything about the nettles in Texas? The most common one, we call “Bull Nettle” or “Mala Mujer” looks much more aggressive than the kind you used in your recipes. And i have always wondered about eating the long (3ft.) tap root it boasts underground.

  7. Brady

    Incredible looking pasta. I would love to see your ratio of nettles to the flour and egg. I tried a different twist on the traditional soup, Thai Green Curry with gobs of beautiful greens and thinly sliced red pepper for color contract. Outstanding although it looked like a Christmas dish!
    Hope to hear you are up and getting around soon, I’m already counting down to morel season….


  8. Cecilia

    Sorry about making you feel self-conscious, Josh…but it the bog stinks… :)

  9. Russell

    Wow. I shocked that anyone would voluntarily plant nettles!

    Then I thought, ok yeah, they don’t actually grow everywhere. It just seems like it. Around here (Seattle) they’re a vicious, obnoxious weed and there’s plenty to go around. Haven’t checked on whether they’re coming up yet, my guess is another couple weeks, but it’s been an unusually warm Winter. I’ve got it in mind to raid the nettles around my in-laws place, simultaneously scoring marriage points and stocking my larder! As for use: I’m thinking Nettle and Chicken sausages, Spanikopita, stuffing for squash blossoms when Summer rolls around…so many options.

  10. Kiva Rose

    Nice job, Hank, I really like Nettle pasta too.

    It’s very true that where you gather them from will have an impact on the flavor, as will species. Here in the mountains of New Mexico, we have Urtica gracilenta and I have never noted any fishy/briny taste. Minerally yes, but not fishy. However, I have definitely noticed some bizarre taste variations in the species of greens depending on where I gather them.

    Sour cream/cream cheese/piima cream based Nettle dips with lemon zest and such are another great choice with Nettles, and one that nearly everyone really really likes, even people who generally dislike wild greens.

  11. Frustrated Farmer Rick

    I have been meaning to cook with nettles for a while now. We managed to pick some last spring but unfortunately they never made it to the table. The plan was to make a nettle beer ala Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall .

    I have also been looking for a good pasta recipe as well and I will certainly be trying yours.

  12. Jen

    I tried the soup, I tried the tea, I thought nothing could make me eat nettles again no matter how prolific and free the food source. I stand corrected – pasta! Brilliant. Thanks again for an inspiring way to use a previously suspect ingredient.

    There’s a pub near us – The Bottle Inn – that holds an annual nettle eating contest . By all accounts it’s well-attended. Contestants eat the nettles raw, and there’s no cheating, like eating chilis beforehand to dull the sensation. Shall I send you an entry form?!?

  13. Mike S

    “If you gently grasp the nettle,
    It will sting you for your pains;
    But grasp it like a man of mettle,
    And it as soft as silk remains.”

    Tom Johnson

  14. Kevin

    Very cool. I planted some last year, and will be looking forward them…in April..

  15. Holly Heyser

    Crockett, LOVE the name of your nettle – mala mujer = bad wife! LOL.

  16. Jen

    Near enough – I’m in the UK, but in the southwest. The pub is in the county of Devon. The British aren’t known for their cuisine, and I don’t suppose a nettle eating contest helps that perception.

  17. Ajna Andelkovic

    I love stinging nettles, but it’s been really hard finding them in Sacramento? Any suggestions for a good nettle picking spot?

  18. Russell

    Woot. Nettles are up in Seattle! Picked a bunch yesterday, making Ravioli with them tonight, including some Yellowfoot Chanterelles and Hedgehogs. Also be making some Nettle Mead or Beer this month.

  19. Karen Vaughan

    I love nettles. When I lived in Genova we made them into green pasta regularly. Don’t forget to dry some to crumble into soups, omelettes and to make into overnight infusions. I throw them into spaghetti sauce, infuse vinegars to bring up the mineral content and throw them into most everything.

    The fresh nettles can be marinated in olive oil with garlic and tamari, which wilts the stingers enough to eat them raw.

    In fact just keeping them standing in water causes the spines to wilt. I pick long stems for urtication, usually picked barehanded (more about that below) and if I let them sit around for too long they don’t work. The sting you get is so tepid that it doesn’t make a decent counter-irritant.

    And my grandmother taught me that If you grasp a leaf firmly that you push down the irritating hairs and don’t get stung. It is the mindless brushing up against the plant that causes the sting. So engage with your nettles.

  20. Nettles! | Acupuncture and Herbs

    […] love eating nettles. When I lived in Genova we made them into green pasta regularly and the green is more intense than with spinach pasta, as well as being more medicinal. […]

  21. Karen Vaughan

    I have a piece I wrote about nettles for the Herbwifery Forum Blog Party, emerging from winter with herbs. It is at along with the full list of the blog party. I referenced your piece on making nettles pasta.

  22. Mimi

    Just saw this post, Hank.

    I’ve always thought nettles tasted a bit like seaweed, myself. But maybe the Israeli varieties taste milder than yours.

    My Dad told me that business of grasping the nettle firmly…he who had never foraged for nettles in his life. So I went out and firmly grasped my next nettle – and regretted it, a lot. I still sometimes pick barehanded; over the years, I’ve gotten used to it. But it still does always sting.

  23. Heather

    Hank, I’m writing a little piece on nettles for I always noticed a slight fishy smell, too, and if you do a search for this, you’ll see that I’m not the only lady who could barely take her Nature’s Way Completia prenatal vitamins (which contain nettle). The fishy odor (mixed with mint! disgusting!) was so strong that I had to switch to a different brand of vitamins when I was pregnant.

    Anyway, I was doing a little research, and the amine responsible for fishy odor, trimethylamine, is also responsible for ammonia’s telltale odor. Many people have remarked that nettle roots smell of ammonia. I have a hunch that Urtica contains trimethylamine, but I can’t find any literature to support that.

  24. Cafe Liz » Winter’s bounty: Mallow leaves stuffed with nettle » the kosher vegetarian Israeli food blog

    […] Hank Shaw on nettles. […]

  25. Ashley at La Tavola Marche

    Great post! I just mentioned it with a link on my blog about Eating Wild: Nettle Ravioli with Butter & Sage. I’ll have to check out more of your site – bravo! If you’re in Italy come visit our organic farm, inn & cooking school in Le Marche – Ashley
    Here’s the link to the mention:

  26. On Becoming a Nettle Eater | Culture Of Adventure

    […] time of the prep and food part. Basically, I blanched them for thirty seconds to one minute as per Hank Shaw’s recommendation. The water from the blanching made incredible tea! I’m drinking a cup as I am writing. I made […]

  27. sustainability… « Tinker Verve

    […] Nettle just do a Google Search.  There is so much wonderful information!  I really enjoyed “THIS POST” that my brother sent to […]

  28. Mari

    We made the strettine tonight. Your recipe was great, worked perfectly. The only thing I could wish for would be a little more specificity in the rolling instructions and a little more in the drying/storage instructions. We’re not pasta-making experts…

    Anyway we loved it. Served it with a butter sauce and yellow squash (wanted the color contrast badly) and some soysage coins. Awesome color!

    I have a picture here:

  29. » Blog Archive » Veggie Booty

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  30. Jason

    I just picked a bunch of nettles and wild leeks, in my backyard in the Catskills. I then brought them home, and sauteed them in a pan with some olive oil, garlic, and a touch of Bragg. Then I put it on a bed of steamed brown rice, and a little salt and pepper…..It was pretty good, and felt like the nettle was working on me internally. I won’t be surprised if we find out later, that this plant does even more for us nutritionally and medicinally.

  31. Stinging Nettle Gnocchi | Twice Cooked

    […] found this fabulous page about making stinging nettle pasta by Hank Shaw.  But I am a pasta novice, and I didn’t want to waste the entire plant on a project that […]

  32. nate

    I have those burning pests all over my yard. I was shopping for weed killer about the same time that I developed kidney problems. As I looked for a cure, I was surprised to find that those dang stingers are one of the highest recommended herbs. Not only that but I’ve been taking them as part of a multivitamin and never even knew it. So now I’m gonna cut those fiery bastards and eat ’em.

  33. Stephanie

    I have lots of nettle, if you want some or all come and get them. I am located in Valley Springs,CA . They are a nusance and I would dearly love to eradicate them.

  34. Elaine

    great info!! I cant stand stinging nettle! i tried to kill the stuff that was growing in my garden! Until now!! now has a use! and a great one thanks!! and purslane takes over my garden every year but it no longer is considered a weed! we now eat it like spinach or raw IN SALADS!

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  36. Mare Cromwell

    Hi – what a creative set of ideas.. thanks!
    I have not read all the comments above. Forgive me. But I just steamed some nettles up this afternoon and there was no fishy smell. I suspect that it was the salt water that you blanched them in that brought out the fishy smell. If you steam them, there is no fishiness. ;~)

    here’s to healthy eating from wild foraging.

  37. Pauline

    Yesterday I made an omelette made with nettles,wild leeks, seakale,ttwo comfrey leaves, porcini mushrooms,eggs, grated potatoe, laminaria seaweed and grated cheddar cheese. It was so I want to make another one soon. I made it in Ireland. The greens came from our garden and the seaweed from our local beach.

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  40. Wild About Nettles « Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat

    […] trend. And I’m no expert. For more recipes and more in-depth information check out the blogs of Hank Shaw and Langdon Cook. And you can always sign up for a local foraging class too. Or you can do what’ve […]

  41. Farmer – Forager – Food Citizen – Cook | Jubilee Fruits and Vegetables

    […] or gloves when raw. After a very brief blanche or steam they are harmless to the touch. Check out this blog and it will lead you to many recipes and other […]

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  43. Ben Richardson

    Nettles are indeed yummy, but I use it nowadays in gardening. I make sure to put some nettles in my garden as that will help the other plants grow bigger. See here: .

    When I was a kid my mom used to make me nettle soup. Hated it to the heart but now I long for those days.

  44. Hidden Food in Your Yard You Walk Past Every Day | aruga

    […] Most people cook stinging nettles because cooking neutralizes the sting, although there are some uber-hard core foodies who eat them raw. Soaking them also reportedly helps remove the stinging chemicals, so do that first if you want to try them in a salad. For some great sounding nettle recipes, see this article by […]

  45. Louise

    Thanks for the post! I love nettles! I make a mix of dry nettle seeds
    and dry kelp. Powder it in a coffee mill. I then add it to smoothies, oatmeal, salad dressing etc… I love it!

  46. mark

    Nettles are a truly underrated and underused food. I get the slight fish smell to me they also have a subtle flavor similar to squid.

  47. Laura

    I have tried to eat nettles no fewer than 15 times. The rank smell of cat pee makes my stomach turn every time. I end up throwing them out every time. The smell is real and VERY pungent. I can smell a patch of them far before I make visual contact.

  48. corinne

    I was trying to tell a friend about how much I LOVE nettles and he had this same reaction… like cat pee. No way! I wonder if people are genetically predisposed to like or dislike nettles like how some people think cilantro tastes like soap…he thinks cilantro tastes like soap, maybe they are connected.

  49. Deborah

    Thanks for sharing this info. I’ve been meaning to try nettles for years. I just moved to a ranch where the nettles don’t seem to have as much sting. Now eating them almost daily in anything that I used to add greens to. I’m vegetarian, so the protein is a bonus. This morning fried up a hash with nettles, potatoes, seitan in olive oil.

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  51. Useful Herbs: Stinging Nettle | The Expat Prepper

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  53. Signs of Spring – Morels & Stinging Nettles | Food for Architects

    […] She demonstrated by grasping and plucking the plant with her bare hand saying that after a while of plucking nettles her hands grow numb. Her hands were a lot tougher than mine and I kept my gloves on. She told me to steam them to eat as a vegetable topped with vinegar and butter. When I got home a quick search showed a variety of ways to eat them including pasta, soups, gnocchi, spanikopita and more. Nettles are very high in vitamins, iron and fiber. For more information check out Hank’s post. […]

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  55. Cordelia Fiterre

    I’ve been eating nettles for years and have never noticed any fishiness, until late last week, when I was using up the last of my harvest from early in the week. The nettles were a bit older and had not been refrigerated because my fridge is stupid small, but it’s been chilly here in the PNW and they were on the shady side of the house. Nonetheless, they were not as vibrant as when I usually process them, and when I did, they had a distinct fishy scent and taste that was so strong as to make them inedible to me (a lifelong vegetarian).

    Interestingly, my husband couldn’t taste the fishiness at all, though they did taste a little different to him. Maybe it’s some weird supertaster thing. I’m not a full-on supertaster but my sense of taste and smell is very developed, and I’ve experienced soapy tones in cilantro before. I got over it, but that’s distinctly a supertaster thing.

    It doesn’t sound like your nettles were old at all, so my experience may not help you much, I just thought you might like to know that someone else tasted fishy nettles. Cheers, and happy hunting to you.

  56. Nico

    I’m thinking of a twist on the classic quiche Florentine by using nettles… trying out a frittata today, and the quiche likely next week.

  57. Dandelion and Other Wild Edible Plants – The Hidden Food in Your Yard - Health Starts in the Kitchen

    […] Most people cook stinging nettles because cooking neutralizes the sting, although there are some uber-hard core foodies who eat them raw. Soaking them also reportedly helps remove the stinging chemicals, so do that first if you want to try them in a salad. For some great sounding nettle recipes, see this article by […]

  58. Dandelion and Other Wild Edible Plants – The Hidden Food in Your Yard - Healthy Holistic LivingHealthy Holistic Living

    […]   Most people cook stinging nettles because cooking neutralizes the sting, although there are some uber-hard core foodies who eat them raw. Soaking them also reportedly helps remove the stinging chemicals, so do that first if you want to try them in a salad. For some great sounding nettle recipes, see this article by […]

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