I was trying to make mozerella cheese from stinging nettels and citric acid to form the curds. I have collected pound and pounds of this plant and tried making curdles ten times and failed. has anyone sucessfully done this and are willing to share their recipe? I dont have so many of some of the other plants ive heard work growing around me.
Harvest nettle leaves before the plant has gone to seed. Once the nettle has seeded, it is unsafe to use for making rennet. Harvest nettle leaves into a clean paper sack.
If fresh nettle is not available in your area, check local natural food stores. Dried nettle leaves are readily available, as they are often used for tea. Substitute ¾-1 pound dried nettle for 2 pounds fresh leaves.
2 pounds fresh stinging nettle (urtica dioica)
1 Tbsp. Sea Salt
1. Rinse 2 pounds fresh leaves under cool, filtered water.
2. Fill a large pot with 4 cups water, add the clean leaves, add more water if needed to just cover the nettle leaves, bring the water and leaves to a light boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes.
3. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of sea salt to the pot; stir gently to dissolve, The salt will help to break down the leaves and release the coagulating enzyme.
4. Place a colander inside a large bowl, line the colander with one layer of clean cheesecloth, pour nettles into colander and drain until leaves stop dripping.
5. The liquid drained from the nettle leaves is the liquid nettle rennet. It can be used in amounts of 1 cup of nettle rennet per 1 gallon of warmed milk.
6. Keep tightly covered and avoid exposure to light. Nettle rennet will keep in the refrigerator or cold storage for a few weeks if stored properly.
How to use your nettle rennet:
When using nettle rennet in cheese making, use slightly less salt than the cheese recipe calls for, because the rennet will be a bit salty.
Nettle rennet can be used with any milk to make cheese.
However, cheese made with vegetable rennet may develop a bitter flavor if aged for a long period of time (over 2 months).
Solve this problem by using animal rennet for aged cheeses, making cheeses with shorter aging periods when using nettle rennet, or merely eating the cheese younger.
Funny, when you said "cheese" I thought you meant "leaf curd". Fergus the Forager has a good article on making leaf curd from wild garlic. In the article, Fergus mentions that he has also successfully used stinging nettles to produce leaf curd. I have never tried this myself, but a friend of mine has - @thatvinegarguy on Instagram made wild garlic leaf curd this past spring.
P Colvin wrote:" Once the nettle has seeded, it is unsafe to use for making rennet. "
Why? Other sources cite the seeds as good nutrition, and I have made tea with seeded nettle, the whole plant.
As nettle plants mature to the flowering/seeding stage the leaves develop cystoliths, tiny crystals of (I believe) calcium carbonate that are insoluble in water and also indigestible, but depending on size can be absorbed. Ingesting too many of these can cause tiny tears in the body and cause irritation, especially the urinary tract, similar to having too many oxalates. This is why it is advised only young leaves in spring are harvested.
I have a wonderful wild edible recipe book from a lady in Lincoln, Nebraska, where the author talks about her many failed attempts at doing this. She wrote that she wonders if it varies by region whether it will work. She even enlisted professional help in trying to make it work. I can't remember if it was a lab or professional cheese company or what it was. I'll try to find the book. I have an extensive foraging library and tend to have them all over the house. :)
I'm curious if anybody has actually personally made it work? I'd love to do it too.