The Thistle And The Nettle

Kind of ironic, me trying to eat thistles and nettles, as they were definitely the most annoying plants to me when I was a kid. Thistles scratch you real badly and nettles sting like hell, I think they are even worse, coz the sting can last for quite a long time and, if you are not familiar with them, it itches and burns at the same time!

I watched this video the other week and the guy makes eating thistles sound really delicious, so I thought I’ll try them. And basically everyone knows how a thistle looks like, I thought that would be an easy start into my wild food experiment..

Well, I don’t know if Australian Thistles are different to other kinds, but the ones we tried tasted awful! We looked for the smallest ones, but even they had flowered already and might have been too old. And we really tried the smallest ones we could find!

They were just really dry and that white, dry stuff in the middle was just really nasty. It was like chewing on a twig. And I felt a bit dizzy after, but that might have been from the heat. I will try eating them again in Europe, but I don’t think I’ll have to eat them for a while.

Also, standing in a park, with gloves on, my partners gloves were black, mine were white, and with knives, doing something that was a little weird, well, I felt like we looked like serial killers..

I haven’t seen any stinging nettles in Australia, so I haven’t actually tried them yet. But I remember seeing by lots and lots of them in Germany. ..and getting stung by them.

My grandmother told me that during World War II they used to go to the forest to pick nettles to make nettle soup from. As a kid I was like “Wtf, how rough is that??” Now I’m like, yeah, let’s give it a try. I wonder what my grandmother would think if I told her I ate nettle soup. She’d probably tell me I’m crazy and ask me why I wouldn’t buy my greens in the supermarket! I haven’t actually tried eating fresh stinging nettles, I used to drink nettle tea, but don’t even really like it, it’s too weak and grassy tasting for me..

So yeah, that hasn’t been very successful, but I am not giving up yet..

Have you eaten nettles or thistles or any other crazy wild food before? What is your favourite herbal tea and why?(mine is peppermint at the moment, it’s so refreshing) Do you think eating wild foods is a good idea or is it too much effort?

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3 responses to “The Thistle And The Nettle

  1. Hi, I’ve eaten wild salad greens, vegetables, fruits, herbs and mushrooms for thirty some years now, there are some very lovely foods un-altered by man which just do not grow well commerically due to complex relationships with other surrounding trees and such, so these items are relatively the same foods animals were eating for thousands of years so you are really taking a bite out of history with this stuff. I drink stinging nettle in a tea mix occasionally, but my favorite ingredient for the last few years has been the medicinal mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) chaga mushroom which I often add white matsutake and milk or just chaga and apple cidar, I also mix in elderberry, aronia berry, mints and wild thyme now and again. cheers from Atlantic Canada

  2. Nettles and docks were apparently eaten back in my parents’ era in the UK, although I’ve never had either.

    They forage very well in my Spanish pueblo (not Gib now, I moved to Spain first) – there is a virtual fight when the wild asparagus starts growing as everyone dives into the countryside with their knives and plastic bags to collect it. Chumbos (prickly pears) are also collected, wicked things they are though with nasty spikes.

    If it’s edible, the Spanish take it. Hell, it’s free, they would think it idiotic not to. Different cultures eh?

  3. That’s right! And why not eat it right?! Fresh and most likely organic.

    I have never eaten wild asparagus, is it like regular asparagus? And I’ve seen prickly pears, what are they?? I’d love to go on a forage, but I don’t know many things and until now it has been kinda frustrating.:P

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