Stinging Nettle. Not exactly an herb of excess, is it? I mean, who’d want pounds of stinging anything, right?
In 2008, I sure thought I did. I was making about a half gallon of Nettle Tea every other day to help stave off allergies and bulk-up on my calcium and other bone-building minerals. It took a cup of dried nettle to make each half gallon, so I was buying what felt like pounds of Stinging Nettle at the grocery every month. I figured it’d be good to buy it in bulk from our local online herbal resource, Mountain Rose Herbs. They gave out discounts for buying at least five pounds at a time. I had little concept of what a pound of dried nettled looked like, but realized that five pounds was probably more than I could use. I asked around and found a friend who wanted to go in on an order with me to get the discount. Together, our order came to six pounds of dried stinging nettle.
Oh, my God, I was shocked when I showed up to pick up our order and the clerk carried out what looked essentially like a giant garbage bag full of dark green, beautifully dried Stinging Nettle. I strapped that monsterous bag into the car next to my son and drove home laughing. Half of it was mine, and I had no idea how I’d use that much. It’d take me years at the rate I’d been using it, at least two, maybe even three years, to use it all up. My husband gasped when I carried it in the door.
“How many more years are you going to make me drink that green concoction of yours?” He asked, a mixture of dread and mirth on his face.
“Not to worry,” I assured him, “my friend’s taking half of the bag.”
He wiped his brow as if to wipe away the sweat and breathed a sigh of relief. Did I mention that when I ordered my monstrous bag of nettle, I was the only one who thought those nettle infusions were good…as in good and healthy?
A few days later, my friend stopped by to pick up her half of what came to be known as the Monster Bag of Nettle. I’d already weighed out my half and stashed it. She laughed when she saw the huge bag. ‘Wow, I didn’t realize six pounds was so much. Do you want to maybe just give me a quarter or so of it?” she asked. I explained that she was looking at three pounds, all of which was hers. It took a moment for what I was saying to sink in before she began laughing.
In the end, she took only a pound, and I spent the next four years using up five pounds of Stinging Nettle.
- Nettle Vinegar, which makes a tasty salad dressing, good pickles, and a wonderful hair tonic;
- Stinging Nettle beer, which wasn’t nearly as good as reputed but was probably chock full of nutrients;
- Nettle Tincture, which was good after illnesses, in preparation for allergy season, and as part of a healthy-bones/healthy-teeth tonic blend;
- Stinging Nettle mead, which was good but would probably have been considerably better made with fresh nettle;
- a variety of dishes including Stinging Nettle Spaghetti, Stinging Nettle soup and Stinging Nettle stew, and once even a loaf of Stinging Nettle bread;
- Stinging Nettle syrups for cold and flu season;
- Stinging Nettle facial and body scrubs, which may or may not have benefitted from nettle’s inclusion;
- and Stinging Nettle dog food, which was really the same raw food blend our pup was used to but with a healthy tablespoon of stinging nettle added to every meal.
I drank a lot of Stinging Nettle teas, both hot and cold, and tended for a year there to add Stinging Nettle to every infusion or decoction blend whether the formula called for it or not…whether my family liked it or not.
If you’re going to invest in one single herb to excess, despite my crazy experience, I highly recommend Stinging Nettle…about one pound at a time is good!