There’s something very satisfying about picking and eating pernicious ‘weeds’ such as nettles. They can spring up anywhere, and even grow on waste ground.
However the caterpillars of a number of butterflies rely on nettles, so if you’re able to leave some plants for them to eat, you’ll have butterflies hatching and flying in your garden later in the year.
The hairs can give you a nasty sting, so wear gardening gloves. Pick the young leaves or whole shoots from February to June, but avoid older plants, especially those that have flowered as they’ll be tough.
Nettle leaves contain high levels of vitamins A and C, and iron, are 5.5% protein and are used by herbalists to lower blood pressure.
This gorgeous, velvet-green soup has a mineral taste, like strong spinach, and you’ll be pleased to know that all the stinging hairs vanish during the cooking process.
More springtime foraging recipes:
- How to make gorse kick mead
- How to make jumping jack wraps using garlic mustard leaves
- How to make wild garlic pesto (pictured)
- Nettle leaves
- Stock or milk
- Olive oil
The recipe originally appeared in BBC Wildlife Magazine. Look inside the current issue and find out how to subscribe.
Main image: Nettle soup. © Sanjida O'Connell