Saturday, February 27, 2010

pizza and ale

this is stinging nettle.

                                                                     Urtica dioica

if you have never been stung by nettle before i recommend it. as strange as that sounds its one of the most interesting sensations ive ever felt. the initial shock of it is the worst. once the first bite is over you are left with the sensation that the area of skin where you were hit has fallen asleep. its that feeling of pins and needles as when a limb is coming back to life from being slept on. this sensastion will last for a couple of days. its sort of fun. cheap thrills. 

if you are not so in to the sting you can usually find plantain growing near nettle

aside from being a highly edible, highly nutritious plant in its own right, juices from the pulverized leaves of the Plantago genus will negate the stinging effects of the nettle's acids

speaking of thrills:

                                                                      nettle ale.

like some sort of high school delinquent, nature is practically begging you to get high. it seems like every time i turn around there is some green or moldy thing trying to push its chemicals on me. JUST SAY NO.

OR add a lot of sugar, small amount of yeast and cream of tartar to a pot of nettle infusion, bottle, let sit for 4 days, then get SMASHED.

of course no party would be complete without some pizza

there will be a lot of boiled greens left over from making the infusion. once heated the formic acid that gives stinging nettle its sting will be neutralized. pizza is one of about a thousand options for using nettle. the cooked greens can also be frozen in the event that it is not practical to use all that has been collected. and in the right spot there can be a LOT of nettle collected.

the best picking for nettle is when it has first started to poke out in the spring. after it has grown to a couple of feet its nutritional value has diminished and after it has gone to flower it is not really any good for eating anymore outside of a survival situation. although, late season growth is the ideal time to harvest the stalks for trimming, drying and using for making cordage the seeds themselves are a good food source, ground into powder, added to tea or to flour.

the nutritional value of this plant can not be understated. in fact they are so healthy it can be DANGEROUS. if you have kidney stones it would be best to not eat very much nettle if at all. for healthy kidneys nettle is incredibly purifying, for the bladder as well but again, not after the plant is too old and drink lots of water when consuming and dont over do it. high in protein, vitamins and minerals so potent that in the early stages of growth the concentrations in the leaves will give the undersides a beautiful purple tinge. a little bit goes a long way. its worth reading up on the medicinal value and contraindications.

if alchohol is not your thing a faster, sweeter alternative can be found in ginger ale from wild ginger

infusion of the root, bit of sugar, add seltzer water, done.

wild ginger is pretty delicate and not widespread. relatively slow growing and humble its nice to not pick too much of it in any given area, if you find it. this is fine because wild ginger is another potent individual that doesnt need very much to get you going. good for digestion, circulation and treating nausea, the roots from 2 or 3 plants is all you need to make a batch of ginger ale or to dry and use for seasoning.

another spring addition to the spice rack is western hemlock

the youngest spring leaves shoots can be picked, dried and ground. even still, the leaves of ANY evergreen can be used year round for teas very high in vitamin C.

miners lettuce can be found growing in along with all the plants mentioned above.

this stuff is the vegetation equivalent of potato chips. but healthier. a strong flavor, earthy and fresh. just dont stuff too many in at once or it might be overwhelming. same goes for your dorritos.

stay tuned for more edibles coming up. spring is in full swing and things are just getting started.


  1. man, this is so informative, i dont know what to do with myself. i think it's really cool that you're documenting all this. and the photos are pretty damn sweet too. i think a podcast is in order next.

  2. thanks walter for all the reading you do!

    i just wish i had more time to keep it better updated. argh