Foraging - gathering Nettle seeds

3rd August, 2021
by Julian | 3 Min Read
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Welcome to the latest piece by our resident forager Brigit-Anna McNeill.

Here she talks about finding and using the power within nettle seeds.

To gather & use nettle seeds

NB: Make sure you only use plants that you are 100 percent sure of their identity - never just wing it. 

Nettle seeds help balance and boost energy levels, adding a grounded vim and vigour to each day and working with adrenal fatigue and for those who feel like life is like wading through porridge sometimes.

People range from needing half a teaspoon to three tablespoons a day, depending on their bodies. But it’s always important to start small, to listen in and see what you need.

Nettle seeds still have a sting, which is a little gentler that the leaf, but if I'm eating them straight off the plant, I squish each thread of seeds before eating, to break the sting so it's no longer able to sting me. As much as I've grown to love a nettle's sting, I wouldn't want it in my mouth.

I gather the threads of seeds off the main stems, never stripping one plant completely. When the seeds are ready to be picked, the threads they are on hang down, pointing to the ground. They should be plump, crisp and green, or purply green. If they are fluffy and/or not pointing to the earth they are still flowers. If they are brown they have gone too far over. 

Once gathered, I leave them to dry in a flat basket for a couple of days or a little more depending on how dry your space is. 

Once dry, I rub the threads through a sieve to release the seeds from the little thread.

Then I store them in a jar, and have a little pot on the table, along with sea salt and black pepper. You can sprinkle them on any meal, sweet or savoury or add them to your teapot along with other herbs.

They are good to have daily so I try to gather enough for the year ahead.

You can also make a nettle seed salt which is lovely, adding other herbs to boost the flavour, or you could powder them to make a Nettle seed powder.

When Nettles have seeded and/or flowered, the leaves are no longer good for the body. Which is why I don't pick the whole plant when gathering seeds. I like to leave the plant where it is, so it can complete its life cycle and give its nutrients back into the soil when composting down. 

But if you know of areas that are strimmed regularly you will be able to have lovely new Nettles, that havent seeded or flowered throughout most of the year.



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Brigit-Anna is a foraging retreat leader on our Woodland Retreats here and she also leads wild food and foraging days as part of our events at Sharpham

She's on Instagram @brigitannamcneill