Next time you’re out on the trail, do not just pass by the nettles. Carefully collect a bunch of young leaves to take with you to the campsite. You can later turn them into an extremely healthy and flavourful trail meal.
Nettle health benefits
With no fat, sodium or sugar and with tiny amounts of protein and carbohydrates per serving, nettle leaves are rich in nutrients.
They have more vitamin C than black currants and more vitamin A than carrots. Nettles also contain vitamins K, E, and B as well as minerals like iron, calcium, and manganese.
Nettles are not only good for you, but also tasty and can be used in many backpacking recipes from omelettes to baked goods.
How to cook nettles
Wash, drain and discard the stems. Cook the leaves in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, until the nettles are wilted. Drain and press out any excess water. Finely chop and use in recipes as a substitute for spinach, cabbage or broccoli.
Note: Look for young plants in spring (late March-April). Only pick the tips, the first 6-8 leaves on each spear. Avoid eating nettles once they begin to form flowers.
Spring Nettle Soup
1 teaspoon ghee
1 small shallot
¼ vegetable bouillon cube
2 tablespoons bulgur or any other grains you have on hand
1 bunch freshly picked nettle leaves
On the trail:
Melt the ghee in a pot over medium heat.
Add the finely chopped shallot and cook until softened.
Pour in 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Crumble in bouillon cube.
Add bulgur and nettle. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 6-7 minutes, or until bulgur is cooked through.
Cheesy Nettle Pancakes
1 cup pancake batter mix
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons freeze-dried grated Parmesan Cheese
2 tablespoons ghee (for frying)
1 bunch freshly picked nettle leaves or 1 tablespoon nettle powder
Combine pancake batter mix, salt, grated Parmesan cheese in a medium-sized zip lock bag.
Pack the ghee separately.
On the trail:
Go out and pick some young nettle leaves (about 1 cup).
Wash and drain them. Cook the leaves in boiling water for 3-4 minutes, until nettles are wilted. Drain and press out any excess water, then finely chop.
Add 1/2 cup water and prepared nettle leaves to the bag with the pancake batter mixture.
Stir until smooth and close the bag. Leave the batter to rest for 10 minutes.
Put a frying pan over medium heat and melt 1 teaspoon of ghee.
Cut off a corner of the bag and squeeze batter into the pan to form 2 to 3 pancakes.
Let the batter cook for 1-2 minutes until bubbles rise up to the top.
Flip pancakes and cook for another minute until golden on both sides.
Repeat the process with the remaining batter.
Steamed Omelette With Nettles
Mix powdered eggs, milk powder in a medium-sized zip lock freezer bag.
On the trail:
Pour 1/2 cup water and prepared nettles (see the recipe above) into the bag with the egg mixture. Beat well with a fork.
Season to taste and then close the bag.
Bring to a boil 2 cups water in a pot.
Place the bag into the pot. Reduce heat to low and put a lid on.
Let the steam cook the eggs for about 10 minutes, or until the top is set.