Stinging nettle is an herbaceous plant that grows in wet soil, often along river beds and stream sides. It spreads below ground by rhizomes but will not spread where it gets dry. Nettles are an excellent addition to any native edible and medicinal garden. They are one of the most delicious and nutritious spring greens to eat. Steamed or stir-fried, nettle leaves lose their sting and can make any dish outstanding. Leaves are used in tea to help with grass pollen and other local allergies. Very high in iron, tea and fresh leaves are perfect for pregnant women. In a garden setting, they are best grown in a wet shady area of the garden away from unsuspecting visitors who could get stung. The stinging quality of nettles, however, has been used for centuries to help people with arthritis and circulation, as a sting will bring blood flow to the area of the sting.
Although you may be familiar with how to make herbal tea, an infusion is quite different. While tea is nice for flavor, relaxation, or medicinal qualities that come from the aromatic oils of an herb, we make herbal infusions to extract the nutritious minerals, vitamins, and proteins from plants. In short, herbal infusions are more like broth than tea.
1. Put 1 ounce (by weight) of dry nettles in a quart jar. We use dry, not fresh herb because once dried, it releases the cell contents to the water more easily. If you have fresh nettles, steam them and eat them like a vegetable instead!
2. Fill to the top with nearly boiling water, close the lid, and let steep overnight.
3. The next morning, strain and refrigerate. It will keep for a few days in the fridge, especially if the lid is not opened.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, 1oz of dried nettles has approximately 1092mg calcium (109% DV), 3.72mg iron (20% DV), 129mg magnesium (32% DV), 758mg potassium (21% DV), 4565 IU vitamin A (91% DV), and 1,131µg vitamin K (1,413% DV), and those are just the highlights!