Fermented nettle paste is a great way to preserve nettles. This intense flavor-packed paste is perfect for adding a boost of nutrition to pizza, pasta, and soups.
I discovered nettle while living in Ireland. It grew everywhere, and it wasn’t long before my son (2 years old at the time) found out why it was named stinging nettle.
However, we also learned that it was a healthy, delicious, and abundant spring vegetable. And we ended up eating a lot of nettles.
How to harvest nettles
The trick to enjoying nettles is knowing when and how to harvest them. Here’s some advice based on experience:
- Pick young nettles: Tender, young nettles are delicious. Tough older nettles never seem to lose their sting, not even after they’re been cooked.
- Wear protection: Rubber gloves, rainboots, and long sleeves will prevent you from being stung while harvesting.
- Washing nettle: Wear rubber gloves while washing nettle. The stems are too fibrous to eat. So pick the leaves off of the stems and wash them in a salad spinner.
How to use nettle paste
This flavor-packed nettle paste is a bit salty to eat on its own. However, it’s perfect for adding richness and nutrition to all sorts of dishes.
- Stir it into soups and stews as a bouillon alternative.
- Mix 1/4 cup of nettle paste with 1 cup of olive oil for a pesto-like sauce for pizza and pasta.
- A teaspoonful of this flavorful paste is a delicious garnish for minestrone.
- Mix 1/4 cup of paste with 1/4 cup of olive oil and spread it on toast as a garlic bread alternative.
Fermented Nettle Paste
Fermented nettle paste is a great way to preserve nettles. This intense flavor-packed paste is perfect for adding a boost of nutrients to pizza, pasta, and soups. See the section above for information on how to avoid getting stung when harvesting nettles.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 1 cup 1x
- Category: Condiment
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: Healthy
- Diet: Vegan
- 6 to 8 cups of nettle leaves (freshly picked and washed)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp water, as needed (chlorine-free)
- 1 tsp cider vinegar, optional, see notes
- Destem and wash the nettle leaves as described in the section above. Be sure to wear rubber gloves or you could get stung!
- Place the nettles, garlic, and salt into a food processor or blender. I find it easiest to slowly add more nettles. Use enough nettles to make 1 cup of puree.
- Pack the puree into a 1 cup jar. If you are using a fido jar or similar fermentation-specific container, then simply cap the paste. Otherwise, use a plastic zip-top bag filled with water to keep the paste from being exposed to air.
- Place the jar in a dark location (like a kitchen cupboard) and allow it to ferment for at least 3 days and up to 21 days. The paste will become more acidic as it ferments, so deciding when to stop fermenting is really just a matter of taste. Personally, I enjoy it best after 3 to 5 days of fermenting.
- Store the paste in the fridge and use it within 6 months.
- Nettle is fibrous, high in protein, and packed with nutrients. This paste has a higher salt ratio than most ferments because it is the best way to ensure a good ferment. Use it to add flavor and nutrition to all sorts of dishes. See the section above for details.
- Fermented pastes (like hot sauce) are prone to mold because they can’t be submerged below brine. The best way to prevent contamination is to make sure the jar and equipment are sanitized prior to use and to use a fido jar. If you’re concerned add 1 tsp of cider vinegar which will add a bit of acidity and kick-start the ferment. It also helps keep the nettles bright green (versus turning black with oxidation).
- If nettle paste is packed into a fido jar or a jar with an airlock, it can be left to ferment for up to a year. The resulting paste will be dark and quite sour. But it will definitely offer a unique flavor profile!
Keywords: spring, pesto, iron-rich, probiotic, gluten-free, keto