For some reason I woke up in a terrible mood today. I'm still not sure why, but the late-morning trip we took to the Como Arboretum helped a bit.
The weather was still distressingly un-spring-like when we got home, but the nettles at the side of the house were getting out of hand (I swear they grow an inch a day sometimes...), so when the husband announced he was going to go out and build some potato boxes, I decided today was the day to clip back the nettle patch and brew up some tea.
Nettles might seem like just an annoying weed, but they actually have a wide variety of uses. They're high in many vitamins (including vitamin C) and in protein, act as a diuretic, and young nettles especially are generally good for the kidneys, skin, and hair. You can cook them up like spinach, put them in soups, make nettle syrups, or just steam them and use them in salads. They can even be used to make a yellowish dye, or for their fibers (when they're a bit larger than this.) This batch I intend to put to dual purpose -- to freeze in ice cube trays to include in soups and stocks for extra nutrition and to add to teas and use topically for my hair.
Since I was picking them half to use and half to keep them from getting out of control like they did last year, I ended up gathering way too many. I added about half of them to my tea jar and poured two kettles of boiling water on top, then set them out in the sun to steep. I'll bring the jar in later and keep them steeping overnight (this method was suggested to me by a local herbalist last summer) and then strain and freeze or use.