Harvesting and Growing caution: Both the stems and the leaves of stinging nettles are covered by structures that look like hairs but are delicate and hollow. These “hairs” act like needles when they come into contact with the skin.
Soak young shoots in warm water to remove dirt and debris. Do not use dish detergent or any type of sanitizer. These products can leave a residue. Place young shoots in boiling, salted water (with a pair of kitchen tongs) and boil for five minutes. Serve as a vegetable or add to soups. The stinging quality disappears after cooking.
Denmark dated to 2800 years ago revealed cloth made from stinging nettle was used to wrap human remains.
Widespread use is recorded as far back as the Late Bronze Age, or between 1570 and 1200 BCE, and continues today. One early example is the story of Julius Caesar’s troops rubbing themselves with nettles, relying on the stings to keep them awake and alert during long and difficult northern campaigns between 58 and 45 BCE (Schneider, 2004).
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