We’ve all fallen into a bed of nettles at some point in our lives haven’t we?
They are local, they are fresh, they are free – and they are particularly rich in vitamin C and iron. In medieval times, they were used to treat pain in joints, and as a diuretic.
Fortunately, cooking removes the sting so you won’t be wandering round with tongue rash – just wear gloves when picking them.
Pick them in early spring when they are fresh and young, taking just the first few leaves on each spear.
If you don’t fancy eating the leaves themselves, make a tonic by bringing the leaves to the boil in a saucepan of water. Simmer for 15 minutes and add sugar or honey to taste. Drink hot or refrigerate and drink later with ice on a warm day.
Use the leaves in the same way that you would cook spinach: wilted and buttered as a simple side dish, or added to soups or Indian saag paneer for example.