After a long, cold winter, most of us warmly welcome the arrival of milder weather and the return of the green. As the world seems to wake up, we also wake and stretch our limbs. Emerging from a season of storage and hibernation, our winter inactivity and heavy comfort food indulgences may become more apparent. We have been content to daydream by the fireplace with a warm blanket, drink tea and eat soup.
As March rolls around, it teases us with warm days, then quickly rushes us back to the cold. When the warm weather finally arrives for good, we fling open the windows and do a thorough spring cleaning. We can treat ourselves similarly and focus on nourishing our bodies and ridding ourselves of winter accumulation.
Stinging Nettle Benefits
In Traditional Chinese Medicine and many other holistic approaches to health, food is medicine. When we eat seasonal food, we remain in balance with our environment and are better able to tolerate seasonal changes and stay healthy. Spring is the time of the Liver and Gallbladder, a good time to choose foods that cleanse, support, and rejuvenate.
Vinegar is a great choice for spring eating because it is bitter and sour and has a detoxifying effect on the liver. Nettle is rich in calcium and iron and contains potassium, zinc, and copper. Nettle is also rich in B vitamins, and vitamins A, C, D and K. It is a powerhouse of an herb and called “Earth’s green milk” by Susun Weed because of its ability to nourish and restore. Nettle also builds blood and nourishes the adrenal glands.
Nettle Recipes for Spring Eating
Herbal vinegars take 3 – 6 weeks to prepare, but are very simple to make.
Raw, unpasteurized organic apple cider vinegar
- Fill the jar ¼ full with nettles.
- Pour enough apple cider vinegar to fill the jar, ensuring all nettles are covered by a couple inches.
- Cover the jar with lid or wax paper and lid.
- Let sit in a cool dark place for 3-6 weeks and shake occasionally.
- The dried nettle may soak up vinegar. Check jar and add vinegar as needed.
- Strain and get creative.
- If stored properly in a cool, dark cabinet, it should last a year.
Ways to Use Nettle Vinegar
Spring and summer are times for eating light. Think greens and eat your nettle vinegar with early lettuce, mustard greens, dandelion, and sprouts. Use pungent herbs such as cilantro, basil, and mint, which are also good for addressing a stagnant liver. Toss these into a salad with olive oil, your nettle vinegar, and a squeeze of lemon for added sour flavor to further stimulate the liver.
Once you’ve made your nettle vinegar, you can incorporate it into marinades and dressings. Below are two of my favorite recipes with nettle vinegar as an ingredient.
¾ cup onion, minced
¾ cup nettle vinegar
1/3 cup fresh hot pepper (optional)
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoons salt
- Combine ingredients in a glass or ceramic dish.
- Store in a glass jar in the fridge.
Basic Vinaigrette Dressing
3 parts first cold pressed extra virgin olive oil or oil of your choice
1 part nettle vinegar
Minced fresh herbs of your choice
Salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all ingredients and store in fridge.
- You can be very creative with this by adding olives, nuts, citrus, garlic, celery, or shallots. The options are unlimited.
Additional Nettle Recipes
Looking for more ways to incorporate nettles into your spring eating? Here are a few additional recipes you might be interested in checking out!
Nettle Detox Infusion by the Untrained Housewife
Stinging Nettle Soup by My Yoga Online
Eat light, get outside and move – hike or walk or run a road race for charity and rid your body of stagnation. Start doing something you love or are passionate about and get yourself ready for the summer season. If you have any other ideas on how to incorporate nettle vinegar in food or recipes, please share in the comments below!
Ellen Demotses is an aromatherapist, and a TCM and Western herbalist. She is a member of the American Botanical Council and the American Herbalists Guild, and is developing a natural skincare line.