The O-town Scene

September 04, 2014

The O-town Scene - Oneonta, NY

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I can hear the rain coming in the distance; can feel its moisture with the slight and gentle wind. Better go close some windows. We could use this rain for the second wave of harvesting that is to come. Garden tomatoes are ripened, zucchini's overflowing, yellowdock leaves ready for processing, stinging nettles plump and full ready with seeds. What does one do with so many seeds? Lots! But first, what about stinging nettles? Isn't this a weed that no one likes be- cause it bites and stings? Well, let me tell you one simple little fact: it's a weed that stands out on its own as a dense nutrition- al, a traditional remedy with impeccable secondary metabolites that heal, nourish and help humans adapt to modern-day stress challenges, and a source of iron, potassium, calcium and sulphur for us as well as for the soil. Urtica doica is nettles' scientific name; "doica" meaning "two houses" because of its seed producing male and female organs on one plant. When the plant ar- rives in early to mid spring, its top leaves and stems are very edible, but only when cooked by steaming, sautéing, boiling, baking. Otherwise it could give a detri- mental or even allergy-provoking deadly sting. Its edibility continues through late spring to about the time it starts to bring green flowers, at which point eating the cooked plant should stop. By mid- to late August, one can start harvesting the seed stalks, being sure to leave some for insects, animals and re-propagation. All parts of nettles are used in traditional herbalism and then some. Roots are sup- portive to prostate and lung issues; leaves and stems stop bleeding, stimulate the immune system and seem to be helpful for some types of arthritis; as a cooled tea, the leaves make a great strengthening hair rinse, stimulating hair growth if used daily; and the seeds can be used as an adaptogen for adrenal depletion. Nettle is also used as fodder for farm an- imals; dried and powdered, it can be fed to chickens to increase egg production; and stalks can be processed and used as a fiber in a similar way as hemp or flax. If you find that you would like to know more about nettles and how to use, please look me up or another qualified herbalist. Diana Cozzens was over last Friday helping me gently harvest nettle seeds. She donned gloves for the harvesting experience. I did not. She was, of course, cautious and I'm good to go with that. I never insist people do as I do. One must be sure, ready and completely clear on what ever it is they're attempting. In any case, before long I noticed Diana had re- moved her gloves and was harvesting the nettles. She had won over nettles' trust, as she too was then trusting in nettles. So, both of us gathered nettles stalks with our bare hands: slowly, gently, cautiously. Don't try this unless you are with someone who can show you the proper technique! But we were both in heaven. Later we brought the seed stalks in to the house and laid them down on a screen on top of newspaper for them to dry out. They stay there for a few days before they're removed from their stems. Then I'll lightly roast then in a dry, low- heat cast iron pan. Some will be made into a tincture; some tea; and the rest as Gomazio Immune Boosting Blend for Christmas gifts. NETTLE SEED GOMAZIO 5 parts kelp granules 10 parts dried nettles seed, lightly toasted 3 parts onion flakes, lightly toasted 2 parts garlic granules 1 part pink salt ½ part paprika Blend all well. Use on salads, soups, sautes, to marinate venison, wild turkey, etc. Will keep on the shelf for two weeks; refrigerate after that. Note: If you are allergic to iodine or shellfish, eliminate the kelp granules. If unsure of how to identify nettles, purchase at Green Earth in Oneonta or Good Cheap Foods in Delhi. If one has an allergy to nettles leaves, you will most likely have an allergy to the seeds as well. To share your thoughts or recipe ideas with Marguerite Uhlmann- Bower, email her at 3moonsisters A7 Sept. 4, 2014 O-Town Scene 7 Nettle Seed Gomazio

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