Waste Not Want Not | Using Weeds For Survival


Stinging nettles have a multitude of medicinal and edible uses and grow wild nearly everywhere in the world. The green plants many do not consider more than weeds are actually very useful not only during an emergency situation but daily in the kitchens of folks focused on healthy eating alternatives.

The primary nutritional value of stinging nettles revolves around its natural fiber and calcium content. During a disaster scenario, or when living off the grid where physical tasks are numerous, the green wonder weed edible recipes may help bolster overall health and strength. Strong bones are never more important than when increased hours of manual labor are necessary to work a homestead — or when you can't call a doctor.

Waste Not Want Not | Using Weeds For Survival

The green weed is also regarded as useful for urinary tract infections, skin treatments, seasonal allergy relief and kidney infections. Stinging nettles, when incorporated into your regular weekly food menu, will not only add extra fiber or calcium to the family's diet but reduce the grocery store bill as well.

The wild plant is high in essential fatty acids, vitamin C, and B complex vitamins, as well as iron, magnesium, potassium, iodine, and silica.

Stinging Nettles: Medicinal and Homesteading Uses

  • Put stinging nettles into the compost pile to speed up processing and help the waste “cook” more quickly.
  • Some farmers feed nettles to their cows to increase milk production.
  • WebMD notes that stinging nettle root is used to treat urination problems related to an enlarged prostate.
  • The root is also widely used as a diuretic and rubbed onto joints to ease stiffness.
  • Cook the nettles leaves and eat them as you would any other vegetable. They're an excellent addition to any salad.
Weeds For Survival
  • Adding cooked nettles to chicken feed has also been known to increase egg production.
  • Make soup stock with stinging nettles by pouring the tea from blanching into ice cube trays and freezing until needed.
  • Eat recipes made with stinging nettles or drink the tea to control excessive menstruation or to prevent gout.
  • Make a green smoothie by blending 1 cup of finely chopped nettles leaves with 1 cup of almond milk, 4 strawberries and 1 banana.

How To Prepare Stinging Nettles

It would be a rare find to discover stinging nettles at a grocery store, so prepare to lace up your hiking boots and go find your own.

Some farmer markets do sell nettles or might be willing to add the weeds to their offerings in a customer base develops.

Selling nettles could become a great way to increase your preparedness budget, but educating others about their uses and sharing recipes will likely also be required.

Pick a grocery bag or two full of the stinging nettles to garner enough for most medicinal and edible recipes. Rinse the weeds in a bowl of cold water as soon as you return home.

Some folks add distilled white vinegar to the cleansing bath to make sure any animal waste has been washed away thoroughly.

Weeds For Survival
Use metal tongs or rubber gloves when picking and handling the nettles to avoid injuries to the hands — death by a thousand paper cuts will come to mind quickly if you do not follow this sage advice.

Blanch the nettles in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes until the wild plants become limp — once boiled they can no longer sting you. When lifting the nettles out of the cook pot, press them against the sides of the pot gently to remove excess water if you are not planning on putting them into a blender for a recipe.

Chop the nettles up like you would lettuce or broccoli after they have dried for at least five minutes in a strainer or on a clean dish towel.

Stinging Nettles Tea

The water left in the mixing pot after the blanching can be used as a tea to simply sip upon or be used to aid common minor ailments and skin issues.

Tea made from stinging nettles will reportedly increase a nursing mother's milk supply, help heal throat infections and mouth sores when gargled, can be used as a facial skin tone to reduce breakouts, and even heal eczema.

The tea also can be rinsed through the hair to make it more shiny and healthy. It even can be poured into a bath like Epsom salts to soothe aches and pains, and strengthen fingernails when dipped into the liquid, and some have used the mixture as a liquid multivitamin.

Stinging Nettles Beer

To make stinging nettles beer, try to avoid collecting the bottom layer of leaves — the ones on top are the freshest.


  • 2 pounds of nettles to make a standard batch of beer.
  • 1 pound of refined white cane sugar.
  • 1 extra large dandelion root.
  • 1 tablespoon of either dried or powered ginger.
  • ½ teaspoon of citric acid.
  • 1 sachet of wine yeast compound.


  1. Boil the dandelion root in a gallon of water with the two pounds of nettles leaves. This can be done in halves if the cook pot is not large enough.
    Strain the liquid into a fermentation container.
  2. Add a heaping spoonful of powdered ginger and a ½ teaspoon of either the citric acid or squeezing from a fresh lemon.
  3. Let the mixture cool to at least 90 degrees.
  4. Once cool, sprinkle the dry yeast compound over the mixture. As the yeast grows, it will convert the sugar already added into ethanol — alcohol. The brown foam on the surface is the process working. Once this step is complete, the foam will sink into the mixture.
  5. After the fermentation process is complete, add ½ a teaspoon of sugar to the nettles beer after it has been poured into pint bottles. Do not drink the beer until the liquid in the bottle looks clear.

Stinging Nettles Dip

Weeds For Survival
The And Here We Are website offers an excellent recipe for stinging nettles dip.


  • 1 cup of blanched stinging nettles
  • 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of fresh garlic or a few wild garlic leaves or 5 cloves of roasted garlic
  • ¼ cup of fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • ¾ cup of Greek yogurt
  • A dash of cayenne pepper


Blend the stinging nettles until roughly chopped inside a blender or food processor. Add all the other ingredients and blend until smooth.

Stinging Nettles Mushroom Pie

Weeds For Survival


  • Approximately 1 pound of stinging nettles
  • 1 pound of cottage cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 10 dashes of nutmeg
  • Parmesan cheese, feta cheese, salt and pepper to taste — optional
  • 1 egg — if using duck eggs, use half an egg instead
  • Two cloves of garlic smashed
  • Half a cup (or handful) of sliced mushrooms
  • Two pinches of thyme and dill
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • Butter and/or olive oil to coat and help heat a medium-sized sauce pan


  1. Clean the stinging nettles with water in the sink. Use tongs to avoid being stung.
  2. Blanch the clean nettles in a pot of boiling water until they look bright green — usually takes about 10 to 15 seconds to reach this point.
  3. Use just the leaves of the nettles or finely chop the stalks to garner more fiber.
  4. Drain the water from the nettles and toss like a salad — squeezing away any excess water.
  5. Combine the cottage cheese, lemon zest, nutmeg, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese and half the chunk or container of feta cheese in a food processor. This process can also be done by hand, just takes a little longer and a bit more effort. Cooking in an off the grid kitchen can easily double as exercise!
  6. Add the egg and the remaining half of the feta cheese into the mix.
  7. Mix or stir by hand until the ingredients appear to be silky smooth.
  8. Heat the olive oil and/or butter in a medium sauce pan. Sautee the chopped onions, mushrooms, and cloves.
  9. Once the ingredients in the sauce pan appear translucent, toss in the thyme and dill.
  10. Remove the sauce pan from the heat source and pour in the stinging nettles mixture.
  11. Stir thoroughly and pour the combined ingredients into a pie shell in a pie pan.
  12. Sprinkle the top with a little more Parmesan cheese and pine nuts — optional.
  13. Bake the stinging nettles mushroom piece for about 45 minutes at 375 degrees.
  14. Allow the pie to cool for at least 10 minutes before eating.

We hope this edible weed becomes a daily part of your survival repertoire!
Check out these related articles:
Mother Nature’s Best Home Remedies
“Need To Know” Rules When Picking Edible & Medicinal Plants
Foraging Tips for the 7 Most Common Edible Plants

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Editor's Note: This article was originally published on Jun 30, 2014. It has been updated for accuracy and relevancy.

7 Responses to :
Waste Not Want Not | Using Weeds For Survival

  1. dl sons says:

    how do I print this article on nettles?

    1. TheSouthernNationalist says:

      Mash the Ctrl and P button on your keyboard, it worked for me.

  2. Clay Ford says:

    The stems of the nettle can be use to make cordage. Very strong and somewhat equivalent to hemp or linen.

  3. EE says:

    Sure would be nice to have a printable version of this.

    1. TheSouthernNationalist says:

      You can, see my comment above.

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