Tag Archives: Nettle

365 Frankendael day 152

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Today has been quite wet, will at least when I have had any free time. So I didn’t take many photos. Something that caught my eye was a row of Horse Chestnut trees, in front of Amstel station, with no conkers forming. This struck me as I’d because the enormous Horse Chestnut in the middle of my school is loaded with apple sized young Conkers. Not that they are edible, they do make useful medicine though. Will have to check whether there are male and females…

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And here’s a photo of the enduring nettles and lime tree leaves at the front of Huis Frankendael.

365 Frankendael day 41


Today a lovely scene, if you like tended gardens, of the old partitioned garden at the back of Frankendael Huis. I really appreciate how the gardeners allow the plants to spill out here and there and especially so with the stunning Valerian officinalis which is shown here. Valerian medicine is traditionally focused on the roots but the flowers are also useful and have more subtle effects than the other parts of the plant. I have a big Valerian plant on my roof and this weekend, harvested every third flower cluster, for drying. Doing so leaves the beautiful appearance and special scent almost intact, for everyone else to enjoy.


Here is a photo Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), NL: Brandnetel, in bloom. Now is not at all the time to harvest this wonderful tonic herb but I took the photo to illustrate the difference between the plant and other look a likes, such as Lamium alba, White Dead Nettle, shown yesterday.


Here is a photo of a plant that I want to learn more about, creeping along the ground rather like a Strawberry with similar leaves and runners. Growing amongst it, with purple flowers, is familiar Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacaea) which is edible, useful and tastes minty. I have been watching the Strawberry look a like, in several shady parts of the park, for several weeks. Today it is coming into flower, yellow flowers, so I now remember that the plant a little better. It is a member of the Cinquefoil (Potentilla) family, I’ll have a closer look tomorrow to find out which. I brought a sample home but my cat ate it in seconds – maybe that should tell me something!? Strawberries are members of the Fragaria family.


Not one to eat until next Spring, here is an update of how Ramsons (Wild garlic, NL: Daslook) look at the moment. Not very tasty but the seed heads are developing well.


Next, and again for future reference, the closest Sweet Chestnut tree to my home. Totally unrelated to Horse Chestnut, far more tasty but possibly less interesting for herbalists.


Lastly today, an enormous Dandelion(Taraxacum officinale), two 50 cm long leaves of which, are destined for my plate this evening…

Ramsons are back on my plate!

They’ve been looking verdant and smelling great for weeks now but today was my first little ramsons harvest of the year. Just two leaves, plucked from a huge swathe of wild garlic, will be enough to set this evening’s meal alight. So that’s all I picked. I urge anyone thinking of foraging any plants, to abide by foraging rules and pick very sparingly. Only harvest what you know you will be able to use straight away.

Today I saw several ramson patches, on the edge of the lime avenue in park Frankendael, which were clearly recovering from careless picking. Leaves were torn, twisted and looked generally damaged. It’s saddening to see but more importantly it shows that many individuals don’t know how to harvest correctly and responsibly.

That’s the main reason I lead occasional herb walks in town. If you’d like to join at any time then please get in touch with me via email. I passionately believe that far more people should know the herbs around them and understand how to harvest if appropriate and use them safely. But unfortunately some foragers cause harm and I’d really like to help limit that.

There are many others herbs, currently looking ripe and perfect for use, here in Amsterdam. Nettle is just perfect at present, the new tips will be my next target for harvesting, destined for some home made pasta and a nourishing infusion. More on that next week.

Nettle Pasta – Strettine (Urtica dioica, NL: Brandnetel)

I love nettles and I love making fresh pasta. Here’s a little information about nettle and a great recipe which combines the two.

It is best to make use of stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) when they are young (in late March and early April – before they start to flower). I prefer to use them in strong overnight infusions, as a leafy veg in cooking and as a hair rinse.  The resilient perennial Urtica dioica is sure to be found fresh somewhere near you and dried nettle is quite easy to find from herbal suppliers.  It grows well in nitrogen rich soil, is present above ground almost year round but to avoid woodiness only harvest until it comes into flower.

This herb is packed with vitamins and minerals, is extremely nourishing and energises the body and mind. Taken regularly it can build strength in many ways.  I’ll post lots more about nettle in future but for now here’s a link to an informative post by Susun Weed about nettle and how to make effective, strong nettle infusions from dried herb. There are a many recipes available which include nettle, in my experience many are quite bland. However many traditional Italian recipes feature nettle and taste very good.  Here is a simple, tastey combination of pasta and nettle.  Stinging nettle tops are ripe for the picking at the moment, so it’s a great time to try this recipe.

Strettine – Nettle Pasta
120ml nettle purée
360g Italian tipo 00 flour
2 eggs
good pinch of salt
good pinch of black pepper

  1. Make nettle purée as follows: Harvest about 200g of healthy nettle tops, clean them before adding to a pan of boiling water. Boil rapidly for 2 minutes. Strain and place the wet, cooked nettles into a clean muslin, jelly bag or tea towel. Wring out until the nettles become quite dry. Blend the nettle in a food processor until smooth. You need about 120ml of nettle puree for this pasta, freeze the remainder for later use.
  2. Seive the flour onto a pastry board or clean worktop.
  3. Mix the nettle puree, salt and black pepper into the flour.
  4. Form a well in the centre of the nettle-flour mix and break the eggs into this well.
  5. Use a fork to lightly break up the eggs in the well and use it to start working the nettle-flour into the eggs.
  6. Use your hands to work the rest of the nttle-flour in with the eggs.
  7. When all is basically combined, knead the dough with your hands to form a smooth pliable ball.
  8. Wrap with a clean cloth or clingfilm and place in refrigerator to rest, for about 30 minutes.
  9. Now the pasta dough is ready to roll and cut.  Divide the dough into three roughly equal pieces and pass through the rollers of a lightly-floured pasta machine. Work through the machine several times until until you have obtained a smooth and elastic sheet, at least through roller setting number 3.
  10. Pass the rolled sheet of pasta through the tagliatelle cutting blades.
  11. Dry the taglietelle a little by spreading it out on a clean cloth or a pasta drying stand. Allow to dry at room temperature for about 15 minutes.
  12. Cook in salted boiling water for 2-4 minutes, until al dente.
  13. Strain and serve.