Stinging Nettles picking and keeping: where, how and why?

Wild morning to you. Green is good and stinging nettles are delicious! What’s your experience with one of the best natural and organic ingredients spring has to offer? Stinging nettle is loaded with vitamins and minerals; it is a perfect detox drink or a kitchen ingredient. Difficult to forage, but definitely worth it in the end!

Stinging nettle love story.

When we were kids, we used to play everywhere so it was bound to happen that one of us would eventually end up in the stinging nettles. It did burn and itch too much, but my grandmother always said that singing nettles keep rheumatism at bay. So, I grew up convinced that I’ll be the healthiest kid on the block (also, I had no idea what a rheumatism was at the time). It was later on that I’ve realized all the positive sides as well as uses stinging nettles actually have.

What is stinging nettle?

Stinging nettle is possibly and probably the cheapest vegetable and one of very accessible natural and organic ingredients you can find growing in the wild. They grow in abundance pretty much everywhere (Europe, North America, Asia). Stinging nettle also goes by the name of common nettle or nettle leaf.

stinging nettle

Stinging nettles health benefits

Stinging nettle is a perennial plant which has long been used in medicine as well as food. It’s a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, which make it, along with its other benefits, very positive for our well-being, immune system, and overall health. Looking for a detox? Stinging nettle tea is the way to go. Here’s why:

  • Improves the mood.
  • Boosts the immune system.
  • Cleanses the blood.
  • Lowers blood sugar levels.
  • Improves liver functioning.
  • Improves metabolism.
  • Rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, other minerals.
  • Rich in vitamin C, A and other.
  • Loaded with beta-carotene, flavonoids, organic acids, and chlorophyll.

When can you find stinging nettle?

In case you want to forage these natural and organic ingredients straight from nature, you’re welcome to do so anytime from spring to autumn. Stinging nettles are best to forage in spring before they bloom when they start to grow on the edges of the forests, on the fields and meadows, or in autumn after the rain. I foraged my batch also during the summer but the tea was just as good.

stinging nettles

How to forage stinging nettle?

With gloves. Yes, you’ll need those, a bag, and some scissors. You need to look for stems in shape of a square, and you’ll know it’s the right plant. Stinging nettle has a relative, a cousin-plant if you wish, with round stem. The two are easily confused. The cousin is not harmful or toxic or anything like that, it’s just not special in the health department.

How to use stinging nettle in your kitchen?

Stinging nettles are used to make sauces, soups (such as this one with wild garlic), smoothies or even cosmetic products, such as shampoos. You can boil them, cook them…whatever your heart desires since these natural and organic ingredients go well with a lot of food combinations. They are used to make puree, pesto, dough filling, drinks, cordials, and teas. If you want to eat them raw, you can, but wear gloves when doing it. Here’s how:

Tear off the very top of the plant (a handful of leaves).
Brush the leaves from the stem to the top with your fingers a few times.
Roll the leaves between your hands.

It should stop stinging and this way you can eat it raw.

Drying stinging nettles

In order to keep my natural and organic ingredients always at hand, I tend to dry quite a few of them, especially when preparing for autumn and winter (some herbs and flowers make a great homemade herbal tea blend!). Here is how I dried my batch of nettles:


  • A bunch of stinging nettles
  • Gloves
  • A few dry and clean jars


I collected the plants, put them on a towel in a dry and well-ventilated space (my living room). I left them there until the plants were completely dry, which shouldn’t be more than a couple of days. After that, I separated the dry leaves from the stems, put them in a jar. This way dried nettles should last until the next year.

How to make a stinging nettle brew

With few simple steps, you can make your own stinging nettle brew, which can be prepared either as an iced-tea, or a regular warm winter brew:

  1. Bring a liter of water to a boil.
  2. Remove the pot from the stove.
  3. Put a handful of nettles (either dry or fresh) in the water.
  4. Cover the pot and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
  5. After that drain the tea and toss the remains.
  6. Add whatever you desire (lemon juice, a sweetener…) and enjoy!

stinging nettle tea, natural and organic ingredients

During summer, I normally let the tea to cool down a bit and then I add slices of lemon to it and an ice-cube or two. During winter, I drink it the same way I drink my green tea: no milk, no sugar, no honey.

What are your thoughts on stinging nettles?

Stay Wild!


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  2. John ozmore

    Do you still need to brush the stinging hairs from the leaves and stem when making the stinging nettle tea. or can they just be picked and steeped in boiling water without any other preparations?

    • Katja Orel

      Hey! Brushing is only necessary when you’re preparing stinging nettles as food. If you want to make tea, don’t bother; pick them and add them to the water without any other preparations. In case you’re not picking them from your garden, you might want to rinse them with water (to remove any dirt), but that’s it.

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