Seasonal Spotlight: Stinging Nettles

At the Farmer's Market last week, we reported that fresh stinging nettles are in season. Stinging nettles are wild plants that have a very short seasonal window, which is right now. A quintessential Springtime food, they are rich in vitamins A, C, D, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Cowgirl Creamery makes a soft washed-rind cheese wrapped with nettles called St. Pat, and home cooks can make soup, lasagna, tea, or spanakopita from them - they can substitute any dark, leafy green in most recipes.

As the name implies, they have a very painful sting and must be handled with care. When purchasing, never use your bare hands to pick them up; use tongs. Select plants that have bright green leaves and have not flowered yet. Cooking and drying neutralizes the stinging properties. When preparing at home, wear gloves and pick off the leaves. Discard the woody stems and the seed pockets at the tips.

Stinging nettles have a fresh, woodsy, nutty taste and we think they are delicious. Last night, we made a pot of stinging nettle soup and we'll share the recipe and photos next week. Be sure to check back!

(Image: Kathryn Hill)