Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ground Cherries, Watercress, Stinging nettle.

Got some greens in before th' frost.
Watercress, which has been ripe and delicious all summer long here.
Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)

watercress, wet with th' morning dew

Watercress is a very spicy-mustardy green. As it's name implies it grows in the water-
which means you have to be careful with it. Now if th' rivers were pure like they were for thousands of years when the natives were th' caretakers of this land, it'd be a different story- but that's history.
Today, let's not drink that water, or eat th' plants that are in it. But luckily for us, watercress grows from it's top, so if it aint in th' water, chances are good that it never was in th' water.
But hey, let's not take chances- pay attention to the area, know if th' creek rises or has recently, if so, you may want to be a little more careful in your harvesting.
When you get it home, wash it good, and if you're worried about Ecoli or some such, cook your greens thoroughly- but if you know what you're doing that is not necessary. They are good raw and cooked, so it's best to know your source, then you can enjoy them how you like.
Use them as a garnish to your meal, mix them with a salad to spice it up, or cook up a soup with cress greens in it.
Here's a picture of a potato soup with watercress and some late season, new growth stinging nettle.

watercress, nettle and potato soup
Now, nettle is usually a spring green, but a little bit of cool weather and heavy rains gave us a second round of new growth this year, and we took advantage of it.

late season, new growth stinging nettle

Th' seeds of nettle are highly nutritious, and said to be good for your kidneys. They have also been shown to promote endurance and heightened awareness, similar to ginseng. They help th' body restore and rejuvenate, something very useful indeed in this toxic world we live in. 
 Bear Medicine Herbals has some more good info on nettles.
nettle stalk covered in seeds
stinging nettle seeds

bowl full of nettle greens
Just before th' first frost is also th' time of year to gather in ground cherries.
Last year we harvested a bunch of them just as they were ripening, as they ripen well if left in th' husks. This year we waited til they got good and yeller.

Ground Cherries are in th' nightshade family, and look very much like miniature tomatillos.
They are extraordinarily sweet, and peppery when ripe. We made some serious salsa with them, and mixed them with crab apples to make pie. This year we're sun drying some. It's taking a long time, but they smell really good.

ground cherries, at best time for pickin
Here's what they looked like when we started sun drying them, now they look like raisins, but it's taken about a week so far.
Sun drying ground cherries.
Well, fall is here now, so that's all of th' greens for awhile, enjoy.



  1. what about the sting in stinging nettles?

    1. a little pain never hurt anybody- but seriously, th' spines go in a certain direction, look closely and you'll see it... i grab from th' bottom rubbing my hand upwards, and rarely get stung- or just prune them off with a pair of pruners or scissors or a knife, i know you've got one on you...but th' sting is not that bad, sometimes i sting myself on purpose just to remember what it feels like...

    2. oh yeah, and if you do get stung, and just can't take it, grab a dock leaf, i'm sure there's one nearby- and chew it up and put it on th' sting, it'll stop real fast, it's almost miraculous... works for cactus pokes and wasp and bee stings too...

    3. hmmm, i guess i just assume that everyone knows how to eat nettles, ya gotta cook 'em see, don't eat 'em raw unless yer tougher than me... but if ya cook 'em there'll be no trace of a sting...

  2. Thank you for this post, it helped me identify the wild ground cherries I found in a fallow area here in Denver. Still testing them, but it tastes great so far.

    And yes, the fruit still seems fine, despite having been on the ground for who knows how long.

  3. Trekking in Nepal Himalaya Comment

    Is it the same as Korean use for their food , as a vegetable ..!! we have same it's like a jungle in Himalaya region , local people use it for the pickle . any ways it's nice to see from you keep post more ,