For the past few weeks we've been using fresh, locally harvested raw nettles in our green smoothies almost daily. They are delicious, so nutritious, and easy to harvest and prepare, as long as you wear the right kind of gloves! Also, you can definitely eat raw nettle leaves without stinging your mouth or throat. I was worried about that, but emboldened while at an edible weeds class with Melany Vorass, I pinched a single leaf off a young plant, folded it carefully (touching only the top of the leaf protects against stings, as the barbs cover the underside of the leaves & stems) and chewed it up. The leaves are tasty and surprisingly easy to eat.
I wear a double layer of latex or nitrile gloves when I harvest the plants for smoothies. The first time I did this, I wore gardening gloves and got stung a few times through the fabric on the back of my hands; I've had much better luck with latex or nitrile, which cover my hands more uniformly. Using a pair of garden clippers or scissors, I clip the young plants about 3 inches above the ground, just above the lowest leaves so it will grow new shoots and I can continue to harvest in the future from the same plant.
I take them home and store them in the fridge, in a large plastic bag with a damp washcloth; this keeps them fresh for at least a week. When I want to make a smoothie, I soak a handful or two of the plants in water. Soak for 10 minutes to an hour, just to remove debris or who-knows-what. If your nettles are dusty or near a popular dog-walking trail, you could give them a second quick soak in fresh water. I try to harvest off the trail a ways for the cleanest plants.
After the soaking, I use scissors to clip all the leaves into my blender, reserving the stems for blending into chicken food, and then add the rest of my green smoothie ingredients. I use a high speed blender, which easily blends greens into a smooth drink, but if you've got a standard blender, just give it a bit longer on high and it will become pretty smooth.
These smoothies taste fabulous, and are undoubtedly very nutritious. Nettles are high in protein, iron, and many other minerals and micronutrients. Check out this page on stinging nettles nutrition for further info on their nutritional value. They are also wonderfully anti-inflammatory. We regularly drink nettle tea (click here to see how we make it) throughout the year, but I'm sure having this source of fresh, raw nettles is even better. And what's more, I have one less thing to buy every week for making smoothies.
Interested in upgrading to a high speed blender? Your smoothies will be amazingly creamy. I don't go a day without using my Blendtec, often twice. Once you try a truly powerful blender, you will never go back! I'm posting the ad link below to my beloved Blendtec, as well as the other leading brand, Vitamix, for comparison. Please check it out if you're interested. Every purchase through my ad link helps provide us with a little bit of income.
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Wild Harvested Nettles Smoothie
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