Sometimes mint stems can be so hairy the best way to tell the stem is square is to feel it with your fingers. You'll feel the edges.
The entire plant is edible. The flavor is very mild, grassy - you can eat it stem and all, or pluck off the leafy tops. The leaves are covered in a dense hairy down - and this can take away some from the mild flavor. However you get used to it quickly.
Dead-nettle's reported to be highly nutritious, abundant in iron, vitamins, and fiber. The oil in the seeds is high in antioxidants. And the bruised leaves can be applied to external cuts and wounds to stop bleeding and aid in healing.
One great way to eat large quantities of this plant is to blend it into a smoothie. I'm a firm believer after many years of foraging that greens are the most important part of our diet. But instead of grazing and chewing all day (though chewing is important!), we can mimic an indigenous diet by blending up large amounts of greens and edible weeds into smoothies - the miracle tonic called the 'green smoothie'.
The dead-nettle is now in flower and my daughters and I go to gather a few cups of it for our smoothie:
I use the entire above-ground portion of the plant, and collect it in one of our small muscadine baskets:
When we were raw fooders camped in a small pine needle clearing in Apalachicola NF (northern Florida) - we spent a month working on crafts and primitive skills. Muscadine vines were everywhere (it's a tough southern grape). We made several baskets - they're incredibly durable:
It's tough to gather a lot of the dead-nettle because of a very cold wind ripping by. Though it's almost March, it still feels like winter. On the walk back home, once I've gathered enough, we all chew and eat some of the dead-nettle. For me this is the best way to fully appreciate how nourishing this plant is - and it's a great exercise for your teeth and jaws.
I lay out my ingredients for the smoothie at home; the dead-nettle, a banana, a mango, and 2 cups of water:
The finished product was rather watery and not too sweet and slightly gritty from imperfectly blended dead-nettle. So I peeled 6 baby bananas and threw them in. This did the trick. Sweet, rich, a smoothie-like consistency, and with all those weeds, unbelievably mineral-dense and nutritious.
Today is my first day of going back onto raw foods and being a 100% raw vegan again. I'm going to use an abundance of wild edible plants and green smoothies in my diet, and document the process here.
I want to feel again like I did several years ago - when the whole family was 100% raw, camping up on Black Balsam in western North Carolina, gathering huge amounts of wild blueberries, and blackberries, and cherries, and juneberries, and foraging on our hands and knees to collect trailside plantain for our salads. It's only a matter of discipline.