I’m sure you are familiar with the popular trend of using matcha for beverages and in food preparation. By using the word “trend” I am deliberately avoiding terms like “fad” or “craze.” I’m not being judgmental here. It’s popularity can probably be attributed to claims of matcha’s health benefits and the visual appeal its brilliant green color adds to dishes. Perhaps I will be allowed participate in this trend by suggesting the similar use of another herb to which has been ascribed equally impressive health benefits. Enter, Stinging Nettle.
Stinging nettle is an amazingly useful plant which grows wild in most parts of the world. It is a great tasting potherb packed with nutrients. Its strong stem fibers have been used for making cordage and fabric. There are numerous claims of stinging nettle’s medicinal benefits. All that could be said about stinging nettle would take up a very long chapter in a book.
Stinging nettle is probably best known for the discomfort it causes when accidentally brushed against. The hairs on the leaves and stems contain formic acid, the same irritant that causes pain in an ant bite. It has been said, and I have found it to be true, that wherever stinging nettle grows naturally in the wild, in the same vicinity grow other plants, such as dock or plantain, which, when crushed and applied to the affected area, will alleviate the pain.
I have maintained a patch of stinging nettle for many years and include it from time to time in my diet. Nettles come to mind whenever I sense that there have not been enough greens in my diet. Although I have a keen interest in herbal medicine and have a huge collection of dried herbs and homemade tinctures, I am not endorsing here the many claims of nettles’ health benefits. For me, herbs are merely an area of interest and I am not an authority on the subject. I will mention that pregnant and lactating women are advised not to use nettles.
Yesterday I harvested some stinging nettle and dried the leaves in my food dehydrator. I then ground the dried leaves into a fine powder in a coffee grinder. The color of the powder is a darker green than that of matcha but could be used similarly to add color, nutrition and health giving properties to baked goods, smoothies and virtually any food. Stinging nettle also makes a tasty tea.
I made my first use of the powder this morning by sprinkling a little on scrambled eggs. It didn’t noticeably change the flavor, not that I would have minded if it had. Nettles have a pleasant flavor.