Stinging Nettles: A Spring Treat, and so much more!
Recipes and Information
Be sure to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands when preparing nettles!
Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) grow in swampy places and riparian corridors along streams throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. They resemble a mint, though they’re in their own botanical family (the Urticaceae). They’re easily identified by their pairs of deltoid (slightly triangular), dentate leaves (opposite-decussate in orientation), with fine spines covering the stems and leaves.
Apart from the slight fact that even the very young plants sting, nettles are a wonderful ingredient to use in soups, pasta dishes, frittatas—basically in any cooked dish where you would use young spinach. They’re certainly worth the slight challenge involved in picking them, for they are rich in vitamin C, calcium, potassium, flavonoids, histamine, and serotonin—all the great chemicals one needs to reenergize after a cold winter and to combat Spring allergies.
SPRING NETTLE SOUP RECIPE (902) 542-3277
Submitted by Cyndi Fendley Sweeney
1 – 2 TBSP olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
1 onion, chopped
2 cups brown mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 bag TapRoot Farms Nettles: about 2 cups
6-7 cups good quality vegetable or chicken stock
Optional: dash of thyme or nutmeg
Optional: 1 cup of cream or almond milk. (This adds a richness to the soup but is not necessary. If you are not using the cream, add a little more potato and stock, purely to make the soup stretch.)
In a large stock pot, ‘sweat’ the onion in the olive oil, covered with a lid over low heat for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil kettle. Carefully tear open the nettle bag (without touching the nettles) pour into a large bowl and cover with the freshly boiled water. Let sit for 2 -3 minutes.
This should remove all the stings from the nettle leaves. Drain, and pick out and discard any stems or hard pieces. Roughly chop.
Add garlic and mushrooms to the onion pot, return the lid and sweat for 5 minutes.
Add chopped potato and stock. Bring to a simmer, partly cover for 15 minutes.
Add nettles, simmer for 4 minutes. Puree the soup with a hand mixer or blender.
Stir in cream or almond milk if using. Salt and pepper to taste.
Some Ideas for Nettles: Use in green smoothies | Enjoy a simple sauté with garlic and butter| Blanch and freeze for easy future use in stews and soups | Enjoy healthful nettle tea brewed as a simple infusion by pouring boiling water over nettle leaves and steeping them for as little as 15 minutes or as long as overnight. | Substitute for cooked spinach in recipes | Create a lustrous hair tonic by steeping nettle leaves for 2 hours and applying the cooled liquid to the scalp | Pairs well with goat and other creamy, strong cheeses | Great in savoury tarts, crepes, and egg dishes | Nettle Beer | Nettle Pesto | Create Nettle Vinegar by adding nettle leaves to organic Apple Cider Vinegar and steeping in a dark place for a few weeks
STINGING NETTLE FRITATTA RECIPE (902) 542-3277
PREP TIME: 15 min COOK TIME: 30 min YIELD: 6 servings
1 pepper, diced
6 medium stalks stinging nettle, chopped
1 tomato (or 2 roma tomatoes), diced
8 stalks chives, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 - 1 tablespoon cilantro, diced
Olive oil, for sauteeing
Salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 cup milk [to mix with eggs]
Begin by cleaning the stinging nettle thoroughly using rubber gloves to protect your hands.
Sauté/cook down in olive oil and a bit of water on low to medium-low for 10-15 minutes. This will "disarm" your stinging nettle and make it safe to eat.
Prep all other ingredients as indicated.
Sauté peppers, tomatoes, chives, & garlic in olive oil - add with already cooked down stinging nettle in cast iron. I suggest cast iron as you will be putting this into the oven a bit later, making for easy transition.
In medium bowl, combine 6 eggs & 1/4 cup milk, whisk thoroughly until well-combined.
After veggies are well-cooked, add egg & milk mixture to pan.
Continue to cook, covered, on a low simmer for about 10 minutes, or until egg begins to coagulate but before it really hardens.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°.
Put pan into oven and cook for about 10 minutes, until egg is thoroughly cooked.
The stinging power of nettles is instantly dismantled when they're cooked (and by cooked, we mean anything from pureeing into a soup or quickly steaming/blanching the leaves). What you're left with, once the scary stuff is out of the way, are delicate greens, with a flavor like a spinach-cucumber hybrid and so many nutrients we don't even have time to list them all. Nettles have long been used in natural medicine for their anti-inflammatory properties, and they have the added bonus of tasting delicious and not like medicine at all. You can really use nettles anywhere you'd use spinach, and we've collected a couple of easy recipes for you to try! For more info, please visit our website: taprootfarms.ca
STINGING NETTLE PESTO RECIPE (902) 542-3277
PREP TIME: 25 min YIELD: 1 cup
1/2 pound nettles
4 large garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a simmer for the nettles. Add the nettles directly from their bag and cook, stirring continuously, for 2 minutes. (This denatures their sting.)
Dump into a colander to drain. When the nettles are cool enough to handle, wrap them in a clean dishtowel and wring out as much moisture as possible, like you would for spinach. You’ll have about a cup of cooked, squished nettles.
In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the paddle attachment, whirl the garlic, pine nuts, salt, and pepper to taste until finely chopped. Add the nettles, breaking them up as you drop them in, and the lemon juice and whirl until finely chopped. With the machine running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream, and process until smooth. Add the cheese, pulse briefly, and season to taste with additional salt, pepper, or lemon juice.
Welcome to the fourth week of the 2014-2015 TapRoot meat share!
This week your share contains:
A whole Free Range Chicken from Longspell Point Farm.
1 pork steak (fresh or smoked) or 1 pork spare ribs from here at the farm.
1 lb pack of sage and onion sausages made with TapRoot pork by Helen at Salmontail River Farm. They are made with salt, pepper, low gluten rusk, sage, onion and TapRoot pork.
Cost breakdown of your share:
Whole chicken @ $5.35/lb, average weight 3.99lbs, $21.35
Pork Steak/Spare Ribs @ $5.00/lb average weight 1.59 lb, $7.95
Sage & Onion Sausages @ $8.50/lb, 1lb pack $8.50
If you're thinking about barbequing any of this week's meat, you might be interested in a recent news story about marinating your meat in dark beer. According to a recent study, the vitamins in dark beers make barbequed meat healthier. Check out the details here.
Quick meat ideas:
Sausages are great cut up and added to pasta sauces. Fresh pork steaks are great cut into thin strips, then used in a stir fry.
TapRoot Animal Update
The grass is growing! Which means that fences need to go up, be repaired, tightened, or moved. Up at Nathan and my place on Ross Creek Road, we pasture our sheep, free range chickens, and this year TapRoot's cattle. We are buying five beef cattle from Jackie and Stephen Rand who live just up the road. These five will live up at our place for the summer, helping to keep the pastures grazed. There is forty acres up there and with our 32 sheep it's hard to keep the grass under control. You want to keep the grass short, to keep your pastures producing their best. If they are left ungrazed, different types of grass may out compete others and we try to keep a good diversity of grass and legumes. Also if pastures aren't grazed, the next year the new grass will have a hard time growing through the foot of dead grass from the previous season. So, all that to say that it's a mutually beneficial relationship to have the cattle up on our pastures. And, not only do they keep the grass down, but they also fertilize the fields. Our pastures haven't been heavely grazed for a few years now, and where the chickens, sheep, and cattle were last year the new grass is so green and lush. It's lovely to see.
Our (Nathan and Justine's) sheep have just had lambs and it's very lively in the barn. We are keeping all the ewe's to grow our flock, and we sell the rams for meat in the fall after they have grazed all summer. So last year we only had one ram out of all the lambs so we didn't have much meat to sell. This year we got 8 ewe lambs and 8 ram lambs, so we will have lamb to go into the meat share this fall from our farm. This is a typical scene, moms laying down trying to rest, and ruminate, and the lambs crawling all over them like a jungle gym.
The sows are very close to farrowing (having piglets), Josh said he wouldn't be surprised if he went down to check and there were piglets born now. As of yet I haven't heard if he found some. So by next meat share, we will for sure have pictures of new little piglets tromping around the farm.
Our first flock of chickens are going to be ready this Friday, we'll be probably taking in 150 of the biggest ones, and leaving the other to grow a week or so more. So, we'll have our own chicken by next share.
Jocelyn has arrived on the farm this week, and will be taking over the meat shares when I leave on maternity leave in July. We've been having a great time working together and she's excited about taking on the meat share tasks.
If you have questions, comments, or suggestions about your meat shares you can e-mail me at Justine@taprootfarms.ca
Have a fantastic few weeks and talk to you next time!
Well, here it is may 12, I just came up the stairs from the greenhouse because Jillian informed me the fire was out. Firstly, I cannot believe we are still having to have a fire going in the greenhouse, and secondly: grrrrr!!! But alas, it is going and the plants are toasty warm which is good, as it will be cold yet again tonight.
This has been one of the coolest springs for awhile, we do have things planted but they just sitting there shivering. For example, our cherry orchard needs bees April 30 as full bloom always falls on May 1-3... Well, not this year: Today the blooms finally opened up. That is 10 days late-- wow, that is substantial, even if we do get some real warm days I don t think things will rebound. My educated guess will be most things will be 5-7 days later-- not really a big deal but interesting.
Other than the cold start, it has been an overall enjoyable spring. As I said we do have lots of fresh food planted, we all are just waiting patiently for it to grow. I am getting a little nervous as our root vegetable storage is getting low, hopefully the last of the beets are enjoyed as the new beets are ready for harvesting, which will be beet greens first. Oh, I can't wait... the taste of fresh beet greens is making my mouth water now. This time of year is hard as we try to finish up our last year storage crops with the anticipated taste of summer. Be patient: things are growing in the fields for all to enjoy.
Here is our line up so far: radish, beets, lettuce, salad greens, onions, kale, swiss chard, sweet corn, peas, beans, pac choi, dill, cilantro, and last but not least potatoes.....oh, carrots-- can't forget carrots! And of course the greenhouses are busting out the sides full of goodness. So I hope you all are having a positive experience with your share boxes so far this year. I am signing off as I am off to check the furnance-- again-- grrr, and take a peak around the animal barn to make sure all the animals are safe and happy. Over and out
Spring has arrived and we are deep into watching the forecast, and clutching handfuls of soil checking to see if its dry enough yet. A wet and cool month has meant that we're a few weeks behind, but today's sun shine promises that we'll soon be all caught up on transplanting and field work.
The latest on the flax front is that we've had some great coverage from the Chronicle Herald, a newspaper with provincial circulation. There's some really nice pics! Check out the link to read the story. We were really pleased to be approached to be part of this story which shows the history of flax growing and linen processing in Nova Scotia and its potential as a sustainable industry here.
This news piece has been nicely timed with our initiative to build up a network of other interested individuals, artisans, farmers and textile industry folk. If you'd like to be kept in the loop with our monthly newsletters, follow this link. Our hope is that The TapRoot Fibre Lab can flourish with the support and engagement of others that are passionate about natural fibres and sustainable value added products.
Down in the flax fields we are madly (the excited kind of madly) waiting the arrival of our seed from the Netherlands. It has been a long road of paperwork and we can't wait to see little green flax seedlings germinating in our field.
Fiddleheads are one of the world's coolest greens. These unfurled fronds of the ostrich fern (matteuccia struthiopteris) are known as fiddleheads because they resemble the finely crafted head of a fiddle. Depending on the weather, they begin to appear around late April to early May along river and stream banks, in open woodlands and at the edges of swamps and marshes across New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. They are harvested when just a few inches off of the ground so they are still tender and tightly coiled.
Loaded with healthful properties (such as iron and potassium), fiddleheads are easy to cook and, like asparagus, have a delicate green flavour that is best accentuated by simple cooking.
Though the flavour and texture may not be to everyone's taste, those of us who love them look forward to their fleeting appearance each spring.
How to cook fiddleheads
Fiddlehead preparation is easy. With a brush, carefully remove brown scales then wash well under cold running water to remove dirt before cooking; trim woody stems. Boil fiddleheads in lightly salted boiling water for 10 minutes (or steam for 20 minutes.) Serve at once with a drizzle of olive oil or melted butter and a squeeze of lemon.
Cooked fiddleheads can also be used like blanched or steamed asparagus in pasta, quiches or omelettes. They also make lovely salads when tossed with diced tomatoes and lemon-garlic vinaigrette.
How to freeze fiddleheads
Fiddleheads freeze well and, due to their short season, many people like to put some away for later use. To freeze, remove scales and wash thoroughly then boil in a small amount of water at a time for two minutes. Drain and let cool. Pack in freezer bags and store up to one year.
Note: Health Canada advises that fiddleheads should be cooked thoroughly before eating. Consuming raw or undercooked fiddleheads may cause diarrhea, nausea and upset stomach.