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Kelowna forager rings in ‘Culinary New Year’ while hunting for stinging nettle

Click to play video: 'Foraging for Stinging Nettle in the Okanagan' Foraging for Stinging Nettle in the Okanagan
Spring has officially sprung in the Okanagan and as our world gets greener and lusher, the opportunity for foraging local food in the wild grows. Sydney Morton spoke with the Kelowna Forager about what is ripe for the picking this month. – Apr 3, 2021

Kelowna forager, Scott Moran, is ringing in what he calls the Culinary New Year.

“It’s based around the moon cycle and it’s the first moon cycle of the year you can go out into the wild and collect food out of the ground without a greenhouse,” said Moran.

“On March 24 we did go out and find two tiny morels [mushrooms].”

While he waits for morels to poke up from the ashes of last year’s wildfires, Moran has focused his attention and his shears on stinging nettle, as it’s one of the first edible green shoots to appear in spring.

Read more: Kelowna Forager hunts for rosehip in Okanagan Valley

“Right now we are just taking what we can get our fingers around,” said Moran. “Each day they will keep getting bigger and will only be around about a month and a half. And as they grow up we just take the very top parts [of the plant].”
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The next step after foraging for the plant is cooking stinging nettle as it shouldn’t be eaten raw. It is high in vitamin C and can help boost iron intake.

“Steaming is OK but I do find them a little coarse. I do like to quickly sauté them crispy almost like you would kale chips. Or toast them in the oven or you can make a quick soup in the blender.”

Stinging nettles are fairly easy to find.

Read more: Indigenous Kelowna chef youngest to compete on Top Chef Canada

“They grow in big patches, in colonies. They do like to have a bit cooler spot and not direct sunlight,” said Moran.

The forager says you can find stinging nettles in marshes or along the edge of creeks.

“Okanagan creeks seem to have a patch every few kilometres,” said Moran.

Moran says to expect nettle to be on the menu in Okanagan restaurants that pride themselves on serving local cuisine.

To make a soup with stinging nettle, Moran recommends adding a small potato, small onion, a cup of cream or milk, soup stock and a cup of water to a large pot and bring it to a boil, then add fresh nettle on top, put the lid back on, turn off the heat and once it cools, add it to the blender. The result is a green creamy soup.

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Moran sells his foraged goods at the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market and shares his travels on his Instagram Page. 

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