Harvest time: May to September
The harvest time extends from April / May to September. Depending on when the first severe frost occurs, nettles can be harvested into November. The flowers are present from July to September, while the seeds are ripe from late September / early October.
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Occurrence of the nettle
Stinging nettles are often found at the edges of forests, on bodies of water, in meadows and generally in partially shaded locations. They are a nitrogen indicator or indicate a high nutrient content in the soil.
What can you harvest and how does it taste?
All parts of the nettle plant are edible (and healthy). Most of the time the leaves and seeds are harvested. The seeds taste mildly nutty and the leaves have a sweet, earthy taste that is reminiscent of spinach when cooked.
The young shoots are best suited for harvest. They are less rich in nitrate than the older parts. The roots can be harvested from the 2nd year of standing. Only then are they big enough for their harvest to be worthwhile.
Picking without having burning wheals afterwards
On the tip of the hair there is a 'little head' that is filled with silica. This triggers a burning sensation when touched. Itchy wheals also develop. Therefore, you should always wear gloves when harvesting. Thin cloth gloves are not enough. Thick knitted gloves or leathery gardening gloves are better suited for picking or cutting off the shoots.
Process after harvest
After the harvest, the nettles should be processed or used quickly. Otherwise their flavors and active ingredients will evaporate. Fresh or dried nettles are suitable for:
- Food for pets such as rabbits, chickens, ducks
If the nettles are already in bloom, harvesting the leaves is less recommended. They then taste less good and are slightly fibrous.