It’s Nettle Week, let’s celebrate with beer! Nettle beer can be ready to drink in a ten days but you could wait longer for a better brew. The flavour can vary from something similar to ginger beer to pale ale depending on your recipe. Traditionally, you add ginger and other hedgerow herbs such as goosegrass (pictured below) wild sorrel or horehound, for flavour.
Nettles are home to many species of moth and butterfly larvae such as the Red Admiral, Peacock and the Magpie moth and the plant supports over forty kinds of insects.
Nettle Seeds (dried before eating) are supposed to give one clarity of thought, a sense of well being, and heightened energy. I put them in smoothies to add a zing.
Nettle tea aids digestion and is good for the skin, kidneys and disorders of the urinary tract. Steep a few leaves in a mug of boiling water for 5 minutes first thing in the morning, for an excellent mild-tasting herbal tonic to start your day after the night before’s nettle beer drinking.
Nettle Tops (approx a carrier bag full or about 450-550g)
Optional – Mix with a handful of sticky wild goosegrass (also called cleavers)
5 lts water
10g of fresh ginger root crushed a little
Juice of two lemons
50g cream of tartar
A sachet of beer yeast
- Boil the nettles and ginger (add a handful of the cleavers, horehound, a little dandelion root or a little sour sorrel for different flavours) for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain through a colander lined with some muslin into a sterilised bucket.
- Stir in the sugar until dissolved and leave to cool. Add the lemon juice and the activated yeast. Cover and leave for three to four days.
- Making sure you leave the sludgy sediment at the bottom of the bucket, siphon the beer into a fermenting jar with an airlock stopper or sterilised swing-top bottles but beware of exploding bottles! You can brew this in sterilised plastic bottles to be on the safe side. Ready to drink in a week but you could wait longer for better beer. The flavour can vary from something similar to ginger beer to pale ale depending on your brew.
Another favourite way to eat nettles is Nettle Gnocci, made with light ricotta rather than potato flour, the recipe can be found on one of my earlier posts here: https://devonium.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/nettle-gnocchi-with-cherry-tomato-sauce/
It makes green soup and cordial
Or steep the leaves for tea
Or use it
as a tonic
As it’s absolutely free.