Red currants are blooming and frogs are singing in the evening but for me the surest sign of the change of the season is the emergence of young nettles in meadow and forest. Deep green and tinged with purple, these beauties are covered with dense trichomes (stinging hairs) giving them an almost crystalline appearance. Oh what a joy to come upon a fresh patch and head home with a basket full of tender leaves! I especially like to steam and dress them lightly with a little olive oil and salt.
These early spring nettles have a fierce bite when I accidentally brush bare skin against them and I have to be especially careful loading them in and out of the dehydrator. I can only imagine that their concentrated sting, rich color, and potent flavor is indicative of heightened nutritional and medicinal value in the early stages of their life. Eating young nettles is a great way to physically and energetically awaken yourself for the springtime.
Nettles grow in all states and provinces of the US and Canada (except Hawaii) so get outside and have a look around in the wild areas near your home. You might be surprised by what you find. Make sure to bring a pair of gloves as well as a bag and a knife or scissors. Now's the glory time for nettles so eat them fresh, dry them for tea, and freeze nettle pesto! In the meantime, I'll be drying away to keep Landsea stocked all year.