The Corner Chronicle
Chimacum, Washington, Tuesday October 16, 2018
John Advocates for Wild Nettle Pesto
March 28th, 2011 by Katy McCoy
wild nettles for sale at Chimacum Corner

Post #9 by Katy McCoy

You may have noticed a new unusual product in our produce bins: Wild Nettles! Are these the same dreaded nettles that have stung me so many times? The package is certainly cute! Time to ask John Foss, our produce manager, what is up. As usual, he had all the answers.

Yes, they are the same nettles.  The sting comes from little hairs on the stems and base of the leaves that inject histamines along with other chemicals. Soaking the plants in water or cooking will remove the stinging chemicals from the plant and allows them to be handled and eaten without mal-effect.  In fact there is a long history of various peoples worldwide, including Native Americans, who have used nettles both as a food source and for medicinal purposes (principally to treat arthritis).

Our nettles are being harvested by Chimacum resident Hans Bar.  You only want to eat the nettle early in the spring before the plants flower and the leaves become gritty.  That means now is your opportunity!  When cooked, stinging nettle has a flavor similar to spinach and is rich in vitamins A, C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium.

I asked John what he did with them and he made a pesto which he thought was quite tasty! He shares his recipe below and recommends serving atop baked potatoes from Dharma Ridge Farm. Enjoy!

JOHN’S WILD NETTLE PESTO print-friendly format


  • 3 c nettle leaves
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1/4 – 1/3 c grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 c toasted pumpkin seed and/or sunflower seed (poor man’s pine nut)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Wear gloves when cleaning the nettle leaves and putting them in a steamer or in a pot of boiling water.  Cook until well wilted.
  2. Drain excess water well by squeezing leaves.
  3. Either in a food processor or in a mortar and pestle, grind the nettle leaves, chopped garlic, and seeds.
  4. Add the oil gradually until well incorporated and the pesto reaches its desired consistency.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.