Spring has come early to Galiano this year. The currants and salmonberry bushes are in flower, the banana slugs are out and the frogs are singing in the ponds, and everywhere there are nettles! Nothing says spring like the arrival of the tasty green plant—free for the foraging. Plus, nettles are good for you, high in Vitamin C and calcium. To quote Sandy Pottle’s famous nettle song:

And then I tried granny’s spring tonic

And now I feel simply bionic

I’m stepping more lightly

I’m looking more sightly

And my brain it ain’t quite so moronic

When you are picking nettles for cooking, choose the young, tender leaves, usually the top four or six on a plant. Use scissors to cut the tip and you won’t damage the plant. Nettles are delicious—but most first time nettle eaters are nervous about being stung. Use rubber gloves when you are picking and until the nettles are processed in some way. Once the fresh nettles are steamed, frozen, dried or cooked, the sting is neutralized. There are lots of ways to use nettles. Some of my favourites are: soup, pizza, nesto, nettle and edamame, and in stew. This year I’m working on new recipes for a green nettle ravioli pasta and a nettle pakora.

This year’s Nettlefest weekend runs April 15-17. I will be teaching a cooking class on Friday night, Patti and Cedana will be leading a foraging walk on Saturday morning, followed by the community nettle pick, and of course the community potluck on Sunday evening, with the increasingly popular Nettle cooking competition. There’s lots to do, and lots of ways to get involved and celebrate spring on Galiano.