Freeze-dried nettles

March Herb of the month - Freeze-dried Nettles

Written by: Christine Alstat



Time to read 9 min

"Nettles remind me that although life can be prickly sometimes, underneath there is always an opportunity for growth and healing."

Ed Alstat ND - founder of Eclectic Institute

Beyond the Sting - A Nutritional Powerhouse

While stinging nettles might be best known for their memorable introduction to unsuspecting passersby, there's much more to these early spring greens than meets the eye. Sprouting up across North America in forests, fields, and along waterways, nettles have a unique way of announcing their presence, thanks to tiny hairs that deliver a sting loaded with natural chemicals like histamines. This sting, though initially uncomfortable, fades to a gentle tingle and has even been embraced in traditional remedies to soothe joint discomfort through a process known as urtication, named after the nettle's Latin moniker, "Urtica dioica".

Don't let nettles prickly defense deter you! These plants are a nutritional treasure trove, offering an impressive array of benefits that go far beyond their sting. While fresh nettles are best for capturing their vibrant essence and nutritional profile, not everyone has access to them year-round. Here's where freeze-dried nettles shine as the best alternative. Unlike other drying methods, freeze-drying is the only process that preserves the full spectrum of nettles' benefits, ensuring that their essential minerals such as calcium, potassium, and iron, and their superior amino acid profile remain intact. With a host of polyphenols like carotenoids, nettles have earned their place as a cherished staple in traditional diets around the globe. 

Whether enjoyed in a hearty cooked dish, steeped as a soothing tea, or conveniently consumed as freeze-dried, nettles offer a delightful way to tap into their vast health benefits, proving they're truly a plant worth getting to know (just remember to handle them carefully!).

Freeze-dried nettles

The Historical Use of Nettles

One of the intriguing roles nettles plays is in aiding the body during seasonal changes, especially when airborne allergens are prevalent, potentially triggering immune reactions. Despite its own histamine content, nettles act as a natural antihistamine, helping to manage the body’s allergic response. This application for nettles in modern herbalism is relatively new, having gained prominence only a few decades ago. Before then, seasonal allergies were not a significant issue for Indigenous communities before colonization, meaning there wasn't a longstanding tradition of using nettles for this purpose.

A turning point came in 1989 when naturopathic physician Ed Alstat, the founder of Eclectic, noticed nettles' potential in supporting the sinuses, almost by accident. An employee, intending to take Echinacea but mistakenly using nettles instead, experienced unexpected relief. This observation led Ed to conduct a rigorous clinical trial, which confirmed that freeze-dried nettles were indeed effective against allergic rhinitis, significantly more so than a placebo. 

Ed's discovery has since made its way into holistic health practices globally, underscoring the importance of using nettles in their fresh or freeze-dried form for maximum benefit against histamine reactions.

Did you know that it was our very own Eclectic founder, Dr. Ed Alstat, who discovered the benefits of freeze-dried nettles and gave this knoweldge to the world?

The Amazing Health Benefits of Nettles

Nettles might just be nature's unsung hero! Often brushed off for their prickly greeting, these leafy greens are bursting with benefits that can do wonders for your health. What's even more exciting is discovering the magic of freeze-dried nettles, which capture and preserve all the goodness of fresh nettles in a convenient, accessible form. From a powerhouse of essential nutrients to suppotring general wellness, freeze-dried nettles bring the garden's best directly to you without the sting. Let's dive into the myriad of benefits that nettles, especially when freeze-dried, have to offer, showcasing why this vibrant green deserves a spot in your wellness repertoire.

  • Rich in Nutrients: Nettles are packed with vitamins (A, C, K, and several B vitamins), minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium), proteins, and amino acids.
  • Inflammatory Support: Helpful for supporting healthy joints.
  • Natural Antihistamine: Can support sinus health by acting as a natural antihistamine.
  • Supports Prostate and Urinary Tract Health: The root has compounds which support the prostate and urinary functions.
  • Boosts Immune System: High in antioxidants and compounds that can strengthen the body’s natural defenses.
  • Promotes Lactation: Can be used as a galactagogue to support milk production in breastfeeding mothers.
  • Improves Skin Health: Can be used topically to soothe the skin.
  • Hair and Scalp Health: Used in hair care products to support scalp health.

Nettles offer a wide array of health benefits, making them a valuable addition to a healthy lifestyle, whether consumed as food, taken as a freeze-dried nettle supplement, or applied topically.

Sustainably harvesting nettles

How to Harvest Stinging Nettles

Harvesting nettles requires some care to avoid their sting, necessitating gloves and protective clothing. Young nettles, before they flower and develop crystals potentially irritating to the urinary tract, are ideal for harvesting. 

Using garden pruners, only the top few leaves should be collected, ensuring the plant continues to thrive. It's also advised to harvest away from pollution to avoid toxin accumulation in the plants.

After harvesting, laying nettles out to allow any small critters to depart is a good practice. The sting of nettles diminishes upon drying or cooking. While air-drying them is a simple method for preservation, it's noted that air-dried nettles, though nutritious, don't offer the same antihistamine benefits as fresh or freeze-dried forms. 

It is best to freeze freshly harvested stinging nettles, they can be frozen as fresh, or they can be blanched and drained before freezing. If blanching your harvest of nettles, be sure to retain the liquid or "tea" as this is very nutritional and can be taken as a health tonic.

Freeze-drying nettles is like capturing the fresh energy of spring itself. This friendly method gently preserves all the wonderful nutrients that make nettles so special, keeping them as nutritious as the day they were picked. Freeze-dried nettles ensure you can enjoy the wholesome goodness of nettles all year round, with all the benefits and none of the sting.

Freeze-dried Locally Harvested Nettles

Our nettles are wildcrafted with a deep respect for the environment, ensuring that each leaf is picked in a way that supports the health and sustainability of the local ecosystem. By choosing areas known for their pristine conditions and abundant nettle populations, we're able to gather the highest quality plants without disturbing the balance of their natural habitat.

Once harvested, these nettles undergo a gentle freeze-drying process that perfectly preserves their nutritional integrity. Unlike other drying methods that can degrade the plant's valuable vitamins and minerals, freeze-drying retains the vibrant life force of the nettles plant, locking in their rich array of nutrients. This means you get all the phytonutrients and amino acids that make nettles such a nutritional powerhouse, in a convenient, easy-to-use form.

""I've been using Eclectic's Sustainably Wildcrafted Freeze-Dried Nettles for years now and it's been a game-changer for the Spring season. It's incredible how something so natural supports my sinuses and knowing these nettles are responsibly harvested makes me feel good about using them. Highly recommend for anyone seeking an ethical product that really works!"

Our Favorite Nettle Recipes

Stinging Nettle Dukkah

Dukkah is a versatile Egyptian condiment traditionally made with nuts, seeds, and spices, offering a deliciously crunchy and flavorful topping for a variety of dishes. Here's a twist on the classic recipe by incorporating freeze-dried nettles for an extra nutritional boost and a unique flavor profile. Use fresh spices for optimal flavor.


1/2 cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted

1/4 cup sesame seeds

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

2 tablespoons freeze-dried nettles

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon of fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt (adjust to taste)

Optional: 1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes for a spicy kick

1. Toast the Seeds: In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and fennel seeds until they become fragrant and slightly golden, stirring constantly to prevent burning. This should take about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. Process the Nuts and Seeds: Once cooled, add the toasted nuts and seeds, along with the freeze-dried nettles, to a food processor. Pulse a few times until the mixture is coarsely ground. You're aiming for a textured blend, not a fine powder.
3. Season: Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Stir in the flaky sea salt and optional chili flakes, mixing well to ensure an even distribution of flavors.
4. Store or Serve: Your nettle-infused dukkah is now ready to enjoy! It can be served immediately or stored in an airtight container for up to a month.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Sprinkle over avocado toast
  • Sprinkle over hummus
  • Toss over roasted vegetables
  • Serve with olive oil and crusty bread

Japanese sesame nettles

Fresh Nettle Soup with miso

Fresh Nettle Soup with Miso is a delicious and nourishing way to enjoy the health benefits of nettles, enriched with the savory umami and health benefits of miso.


4 cups fresh nettle leaves (wear gloves when handling, can also use frozen nettle leaves from a previous harvest)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

4 cups water

2 tablespoons of Japanese dashi

2 tablespoons light miso paste

1. Sauté the Vegetables: In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic, and sauté until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Cook the Potatoes: Add the diced potatoes to the pot, stirring to combine with the onions and garlic. Then adding the water and dashi. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Add the Nettles: Wearing gloves, carefully wash the nettle leaves and remove any tough stems. Add the nettles to the soup and cook for 1 minute to remove the nettle sting.
4. Blend the Soup: Using an immersion blender or a regular blender (working in batches if necessary), purée the soup until it reaches a smooth consistency. Return the soup to the pot if using a regular blender.
5. Incorporate the Miso: In a small bowl, mix the miso paste with a little warm water to thin it out. Stir this mixture into the soup, ensuring it's well combined. Warm the soup gently, but avoid boiling it after adding the miso to preserve its probiotic benefits.

Fresh nettle soup

Japanese-inspired Sesame Nettles

This Nettle recipe offers a delightful way to enjoy the nutritional benefits of nettles, paired with the rich, nutty flavor of sesame. It is a twist on a classic dish: Horenso Gomae. This recipe reimagines the traditional spinach by incorporating nettles, known for their rich nutritional profile and unique flavor. Blending these vibrant greens with a savory sesame dressing offers a delightful exploration of a classic Japanese dish with a nutritious, wildcrafted spin.


4 cups fresh nettle leaves (use gloves to handle)-

1 tablespoon sesame paste (Japanese type or substitute tahini)

1 teaspoon Japanese soy sauce-

1 tablespoon Japanese dashi

1 teaspoon mirin (optional, for a slight sweetness)

1. Prepare the Nettles: Wearing gloves, carefully wash the nettle leaves to remove any dirt. - Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch the nettles for 1-2 minutes to remove the sting. Immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and preserve their vibrant green color. - Once cooled, drain the nettles and squeeze out as much water as possible. Chop into bite-sized pieces.

2. Make the Sesame Dressing: In a small bowl, combine the sesame paste, dashi, soy sauce, and mirin (if using). Stir until the mixture becomes a thick dressing.
4. Mix Nettles with Dressing: Place the blanched, chopped nettles in a mixing bowl. Pour the sesame dressing over the nettles and toss well, ensuring all the pieces are evenly coated.
5. Serve: Arrange the dressed nettles on a plate or in a bowl. For an extra touch, garnish with sesame seeds.

Japanese sesame nettles
Christine Alstat ND

The Author: Christine Alstat

Meet Christine Alstat, an internationally acclaimed naturopath and herbalist of Japanese heritage, whose profound expertise in plants and natural health has garnered recognition worldwide. As the dedicated CEO and owner of Eclectic Herb, Christine seamlessly intertwines her deep-rooted commitment to the Earth with her business, cultivating a space where her passion for plants is ever in full bloom. Her influential voice on herbal wisdom resonates across the globe through publications and panels, reflecting a lifetime commitment to nurturing both the plant kingdom and the earth.


Beyond her thriving professional life, Christine finds joy in the simple pleasures of hobbies. Whether she's spending time with her family, gathering herbs throughout the seasons, or concocting her own remedies in her home apothecary, Christine Alstat embodies a harmonious blend of nature, health, and the spiritual bonds that tie us all together.