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Foraging Nettles

Updated: May 15

Nettles for tea?

Springtime is such a great time for foraging. A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about foraging wild garlic and this month is a great time to forage nettles.

nettles growing in a patch

Why forage nettles:

There are lots of reasons to forage nettles, they are:

  • In abundance (pick from areas away from busy roads to avoid pollution)

  • Rich in vitamin c & iron

  • Helps develop awareness of plants that grow in your environment and when they grow

  • A great way to get more greens into your children!

  • A seasonal activity and great focus for a walk

When to forage nettles:

Foraging for nettles can start at the beginning of their season, which is around the end of February. They will continue to grow until late Autumn, but pick and use nettles that haven’t started to flower, as it’s reported it can upset our kidney function.

Did you know!

With nettles you can make:

  • Soup

  • Cake

  • Crisps

  • Fritters

  • And lots more!

But what about the sting! To deactivate the sting nettles need to be submerged in hot water (or oil).

Campfire nettle crisps

This week we made nettle crisps over the campfire.

  • The children collected the nettles

  • We washed them, snipped off the stems and dried them.

  • I heated up oil in a pan over the fire.

  • To test the heat we dropped a nettle leaf into the pan - once there are little bubbles around the leaf the oil is hot enough. The leaf will change colour slightly, scoop them out before they turn brown.

  • Add a few leaves at time. Scoop them out and place on kitchen roll.

  • You can sprinkle them with salt & pepper, or chilli flakes or eat as they are!

Foraging tips!

  • If foraging with your child/ren spend time identifying nettle leaves – look for deep green leaves, oval, jagged edges and fine hairs on the leaves and stem (the hairs release a formic acid that causes an irritation to our skin).

  • Also spend time explaining how nettles need to be cooked before eating or they will sting!

  • Check for bugs! Ladybirds and butterflies like to lay eggs on the nettle leaves so check before picking (and check underneath the leaf as insects like to hide their eggs away from predators)

  • Wear gloves!

  • Use scissors to snip leaves & have a container for collecting the leaves.

  • Choose young fresh leaves – they are the tastiest

  • It’s recommended that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding not have nettles as it can act as a mild diuretic.

  • Pick nettles that haven’t flowered yet.

  • Make sure the nettles are blanched in hot water or oil to remove the sting.

Are you tempted to have a go? Over in the Stay Wild Facebook group I will be sharing some more recipes we’ve tried, why not come over and join us:

If you are local to York, and love the idea of foraging and connecting with nature click below for more information.

Stay Wild,




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