If you’re thinking about foraging and don’t know what to go for, stinging nettles are a good starting point. The plant is easy to recognize, it is available almost throughout the year, can be used in many different kinds of dishes, from soups to omelettes and in just about any dish where you would normally be using spinach or soft green leaves.
Last, but definitely not least, it can be used to produce a delicately flavoured drink that resembles both cider and a sweet wine.
Nettle beer is ready to drink just a week from picking. Fermentation takes between three and five days, although some people leave their mixture to ferment for up to two weeks. Fermentation needs to reach its natural conclusion or you run the risk of your bottles exploding.
- 50 young nettle tops (top 10 cms)
- 6 l water
- 500g sugar
- 25g cream of tartar
- 8g brewers yeast
- Take the nettle tops, making sure you have picked them in a « clean » environment, wash them well, add them to the water.
- Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove the nettles, they can go on your compost heap or, as we do, be given to the hens.
- Add the sugar and 25 grams of cream of tartar powder to your nettle tea.
- Stir to dissolve, let the liquid cool to tepid and add the brewers yeast.
- Leave in a sterilised bucket with muslin over the top for 3 to 5 days.
- Siphon the clear liquid into sterilised bottles.
- Start drinking within a week of bottling.