When and where to harvest nettles
The ideal time to harvest nettles is in the spring, on a dry sunny day, when new shoots have just come out.
Young and fresh nettle shoots are the best. They have the biggest content of nutrients and taste fresh and rich when eaten raw.
Make sure you choose areas away from pollution to gather your nettles, such as away from roadsides and industrial areas. Their usual habitat is in sunny places where there is rich, moist soil. You'll find them growing along rivers, streams, lakes, ditches and hedgerows,
The first couple of pairs of leaves from the top of the plant are the freshest and most nutritious, these are the best to cut and harvest.
Of course wear gloves and handle with care to protect yourself from getting stung.
The nettle is most ideal when the plant is around 15 cm tall. Still young but before flowering.
Choose healthy, green, good looking plants, without any holes, stains or insects.
To cut the tops I use scissors, but a sharp knife will do as well..
Ingredients for Nettle, yogurt and lemon cake
One pot of natural yogurt (use the pot to measure out the other ingredients)
150g raw young spring nettle leaves (use the top 4-6 leaves)
One yoghurt pot of cooking oil of your choice, I use Olive oil (or alternatively 200g butter at room temperature)
2 yoghurt pots granulated sugar (approx 150g)
3 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
zest and juice of ½ lemon
3 yoghurt pots of self-raising flour (approx 250g)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
For the Lemon Mascarpone cream:
200g powdered icing sugar
Zest and juice of ½ a lemon
1. Preheat oven to 356 F / 180 C. Grease and line a round cake tin.
2. Using rubber gloves, carefully wash the stinging nettle leaves and remove any stems. Place in a pan of boiling water and boil for 3-4 minutes. The sting will be removed with the boiling.
3. Rinse nettles under cold water, drain and squeeze gently between your fingers to remove as much water as possible but not too much 'juice'.
Puree with a stick blender (note: if you're struggling to puree it, add the lemon juice at this stage). Set aside.
4. In a large bowl beat the eggs, add the sugar and beat together. In a separate bowl gently mix the pureed nettles, vanilla, zest and lemon juice and the yogurt. Stir the nettle mix into the eggs and sugar
5. Sift in the flour, baking powder and stir to gently combine.
6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, push to the edges and level, then bake for 30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the tins and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
For the Lemon Frosting:
In a large bowl, cream the Mascarpone until fluffy. Add in the icing sugar and beat. Beat in the zest and a little of the lemon juice. Add more lemon juice to make it a frosting consistency and beat again. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
Cut the cake in half spread a little of the lemon frosting between the layers of the completely cooled halves and sandwich together. Cover the cake in the remaining lemon frosting and decorate with blackberries and lemon zest.
Serve immediately, or place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Can stay for a couple of days in the refrigerator.
Serve with one of Dot's Teas!
You can purchase my DOT'S TEAS at the One Tree at a Time shop in Bozel or you can contact me directly via Dot's Tea Facebook page or through the website.
This offer is only available for local to Bozel drop offs and pick ups.