Why do people eat nettles?
There is a very good reason why people used to eat nettles are starting to do so again. Methods of preserving used to rely very heavily on salt to preserve meat etc. After many months during the winter months of eating salted foods, the nettle was seen as a natural purgative to the system getting rid of all the nasties out of your system after months of eating in this way. Nettles were seen as being good for you and a natural restorative to the bodies normal functioning. They also help boost the immune system. Being as I have a wonky immune system I thought that this might be one way to help myself by eating rather than self-medicating. Nettles are good for detoxifying your system naturally.
My grandfather knew a lot about herbs. One of his nick names was herby. There is an extensive history on both my paternal grandparents' families of arthritis and also on my mum's side of the family as well. Each Spring my Granddad used to flay himself with nettles believing them to be helpful in keeping arthritis at bay. He never suffered from arthritis. My Nan did as do I, but I am not sure that I could be so masochistic to myself to do this. Never mind that you would need a constant supply of Dock leaves.
I have never tried nettles although I understand that they are classed as "Poor man's spinach" After sizingup the nettle patches on my recent walk at the weekend, this weekend I am hoping to be able to go armed with my basket a pair or rubber gloves and some scissors to collect the nettles for making nettle wine. As I understand it you can use nettles anywhere you would use spinach and/or chard. They are inter-mixable between dishes. However I was and always have been led to believe that the best time to harvest nettles is in the Spring months as after May the plant becomes harsher and full of Oxalic acid which affects the texture and the flavour. When picking nettle tops only pick the top 2 inches or so of the plant, and dispose of any stalks on the compost heap. Nettles are very healthy for a compost heap.
I thought I might try with a soup to start with, and if I like it I can then deep freeze a batch or two to have when I need them. I am also working on the basis of a little and often might help me keep my wonky system under control. I can but try, and if I find it does not work for me then I can always stop using it.