Monday, March 30, 2009

Nettle Time -- Part 3, freezing

Freezing is now my favorite way to store Nettles. The end product is versatile and super tasty.

Farmer Theo said that his frozen Nettles ended up weird, slimy and black. I was hoping that was due to over cooking, so my main goal was to parboil the nettles just long enough to make them edible, but not long enough to make the leaves break down. I succeeded.

This first picture is of my parboiling setup. I use a stainless steel stock pot with a pasta insert. I get the water (with a little salt added) to a roiling boil, full power, and dump the full pasta insert in with the nettles. I stir the nettles to make sure they're all exposed to the boiling water -- 30 seconds to 1 minute maximum. The closer to 30 seconds the better in my book.

Here is the finished parboiled product. Note the bright green stems and still-green leaves -- this is what you see when they are correctly boiled. None of the leaves are more than slightly wilted, and definitely none of them are a dark, blackish-green color. That is a sign of over-cooking.

At this point they are ready to eat, and we did eat plenty of them right out of the pot -- no salt, no butter no nothing. I really love the taste of these guys, it is like a flowery, mellow spinach flavor. Oh and here's something I learned the hard way -- don't store the newly-cooked greens in a big pile (say in a huge steel bowl) for very long, because they keep cooking and can over-cook. Spread them out to cool and get em bagged up as soon as you can.

For bagging up, I use a Food Saver Vacuum Machine. For the price it works dandy. You can see from the pictures that I leave a lot of empty space in the bags. That is because I re-use them if I've only stored vegtables in them. They are easy to clean (I throw them in the dishwasher -- mine doesn't have a heating unit in it to melt them) and the extra space keeps them a good useable size.

Anyway, there they are, labeled and dated and ready for the freezer. If vacuum sealed they should stay for 2+ years in the freezer. Having "only" picked 5 full grocery bags full of nettles (and drying 2 of them), we're almost out already. In my house at least, don't expect them to stay around too long.

In the 4th and final installment, I'll talk briefly about how I've used the fresh Nettles in cooking.

Enjoy storing up wild foods,



Anonymous said...

Very informative! You know, John takes the flash frozen dried nettles in capsule form so his allergies don't have their wicked way with him. It helps. thanks for this, ever have nettle soup? va momma

Bpaul said...

The Brits are big on nettle soup, apparently, but I haven't tried it yet. I've heard good things. I've so enjoyed it just sauteed that I've had a hard time branching out.

Catherine Just said...

yer so dang cool.