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Jul 10, 2013 08:41 AM

Has anyone cooked with nettle?

I just saw this video and recipe:

I've heard that people cook with nettle, but I have very little knowledge beyond that. What does it taste like? The recipe mentions spinach as a substitute, is that an accurate flavor profile?

Where can I find it?

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  1. Never cooked with it but had nettle soup in restaurants on several occasions. It's sort of "spinach light" in flavour - certainly a mild, fresh tasting soup.

    As for finding it, it's a weed which grows pretty much everywhere where I am. I gather it's only the top few leaves on each stem which are of use - the ones lower down getting a bit coarse. Foragers gather them in spring, when the shoots are still young and fresh.

    1. I cook with nettles frequently in the summer. I think they taste like an earthier version of spinach with prominent mushroom and bitter notes. Spinach is usually the recommended substitute, but it doesn't quite capture how full-flavored nettles are. In a pasta dough recipe like this, however, spinach is a good substitute.

      You can find nettles growing wild like weeds. You'll want to get them before they flower. Otherwise farmer's markets will often have nettles for sale.

      1. Run your hands through the brush while walking in the woods. When you feel pain, you have either found poison ivy or stinging nettles.

        Usually they are found in patches, so if you've found one, you've found a lot.

        Where do you live?

        3 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          I live in Maryland... I think I've seen it at our Farmer's market, but I figure if I'm gonna try it, I should actually forage it myself.

          1. re: paulj

            Poison wont hurt when you touch it, but has some nasty results later.

            1. re: chefj

              Fortunately around Seattle poison ivy/oak is pretty rare. Nettle patches are common, but easily avoided, especially if wearing long pants. But my favorite stinger is devils club, as long as I don't have to pass through a clump.

          2. I used to collect and cook stinging nettles when I was in college. The closest thing they compare to is spinach, but I hate spinach and like nettles, so there is a difference. At first I wore gloves to pick them, but then I realized that by grabbing the stems directly, the stinging hairs are crushed (also, the skin on your palms and fingertips is too thick for the hairs), so I never got stung. You get stung by lightly brushing the leaves, so wear long sleeves. (Poison ivy will not hurt or itch takes several hours to a day or so before the rash appears...if it does.)

            1. If you're going to forage them, nettle patches tend to be in moist, shady spots -- woodland edges.