As I write this article we are just emerging from an unusually snowy winter, and it’s hard to believe that spring is just around the corner. But it’s coming. One of the first signs of spring, and maybe Galiano’s favourite, is bright green nettle shoots poking out of the ground. The new leaves are full of calcium, protein, and iron. Perfect to recharge us after our cold winter and get us healthy and ready for spring.
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 and 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 kitchen or garden gloves when you are picking and in the kitchen 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 different ways to use nettles. Some of my favourites are: soup, pizza, nesto, nettle and edamame crostini, and nettle pakora.
This year the Galiano Community Food Programs 10th Annual Nettlefest weekend runs March 31st to April 2nd. I will be teaching a cooking class on Friday night, Reed and Cedana from the Galiano Conservancy will be leading a foraging walk on Saturday morning, there will be the community nettle pick, and of course the community potluck on the Sunday evening, with the increasingly popular Nettle cooking competition. Check the website for all the details. There’s lots to do, lots of ways to get involved and celebrate spring on Galiano.