We’ve been noticing the small changes this month. The shift in the air that breathes new life into everything around us. The brighter evenings that mean winter is finally behind us and a welcome sign that spring has arrived.
Spring is one of our favourite seasons, not only for the burst of colours that flowers bring as they emerge for another year, or the new life that frolics through the countryside, but also for the large amount of produce that is in season and available on our doorstep.
Foraging is older than Ireland with people picking and eating food from the land long before it was the thing to do so. And why not? It’s widely available, tastes delicious and it’s free food. We want to share our favourite Pickable Edibleswith you, where you can find them and some of our favourite dishes to use them in.
First up is the humble nettle.The most hated garden weed has more to give than most people realise. For us, it is one of the first on the list for foraging in spring. Local wicklow lore has it that when nettles started to appear, the tender tops were picked and prepared to eat and fed to children first as a priority. In the past centuries, Irish diets were poor and winter offered a very limited selection of healthy greens. It is said that once the children were fed three to four servings of nettles, the colour would come back to their cheeks, their energy would bounce and their immunity would strengthen. Today, it is scientifically proven that nettles are a superb source of iron, magnesium, vitamins and antioxidants which all help to support health and immunity. Every year we dose up with nettles in some form or other to give ourselves a spring boost and honestly they can be really tasty!
With gloves pick the tender nettle tops or small leaves and fill a medium size bowl full. Wash and shake off excess water. Allowing the leaves to wilt means they can no longer sting you. The same applies to nettle leaves when heated.
Nettle Pesto: Take our classic Wild Rocket Pesto recipe and substitute the rocket with very finely chopped fresh young nettle tops.
Nettle Soup: cook your vegetable stock with potatoes and leeks salt and pepper. When cooked and just before serving, add 4 tablespoons, or more if you like, of very finely chopped nettle tops. Stir through.
Nettle Mash: Mash your potatoes as per your own method. Before serving, stir through 4 or more tablespoons of very finely chopped nettle tops.
Nettle smoothie: Add 2 handfuls of nettle tops to your favourite smoothie recipe.
There are so many benefits to nettles, this is just a tiny glimpse of what they offer. We love this video from Wide Awake which gives some more insights into this incredible plant.