Friday, August 20, 2010


I talked my good mother into coming with me up Big Cottonwood Cayon to forage for stinging nettles. My mom's a good foraging companion because she knows more about plants than anyone I know (more than once I've sent her a crappy cell phone picture of a leaf or flower and she's been able to identify it faster than I could through the internet), so she teaches and quizzes me as we go along.

So to answer my mom's question of, "why on earth would we purposely pick stinging nettle?": it's soooo good for you- one of the most nutritious greens, in fact- more protein than most, lots of vitamin A and C, calcium, potassium, iron, etc. etc. And plus, it's kind of fun to learn how to live off the land, you know?

The reason the nettle stings is that the leaves and stems have little hairs on them that come off when you touch them, and inject you with formic acid (the stuff that makes an ant bite hurt) and histamines. I'll have to invest in some better gloves, because we quickly learned that the ones we were using were insufficient, and we got stung through them. When nettles are dried or cooked, the chemicals are neutralized, or something, and so they're safe to eat/touch (something Luke didn't believe. He wouldn't try the nettle til he saw me eat it with no throat/tongue swelling or death).

The plant is easy to find up in the canyon from spring to the end of summer. You wanna eat the young, not-woody ones, so earlier in the season is better, but the plants spread through rhizomes so you can find young ones even at the end of summer (you just have to pass up a lot for being too old). After bringing them home, I blanched them and froze them, and have been using it when I want to add something healthy to a bowl of pasta. It tastes like if spinach and swiss chard had a love child. Very good.


  1. This is so great to me that you do stuff like this. As I said in a text message to you, I really wish I would love to forage for herbs in the forest but would like a guide to help show me the ropes. The older I get the less motivation I have to teach myself how to do new things. Sucks. I used to love teaching myself how to do new things. I still like learning about various subjects, but learning new skills is what has become a more challenging.

  2. Ha, Luke is such a sucker. It won't kill you until the next day.

  3. Can I live with you when the world ends? That'd be nice.