If you like me are an avid nettle avoider this will come as a bit of a shock. In-fact it blew my mind.
As a child and yes I admit as an adult I would wear many layers of clothing and tuck trousers into heavy duty socks to avoid the potential for a nettle injury. I loathe them, so you can imagine my reaction when Simon said he was thinking nettle syrup would be nice to make.
What – oh no another foraging fad, they will sting you whilst picking and then it will taste awful, I said, that nasty weed should be totally exterminated forever. What idiot would want to eat a plant that stings you and really makes you cry? It would appear that the answer to that is me.
He didn’t listen to me which I might add is not an unusual occurrence and went off armed with big gloves to pick the juiciest nettles he could find. Madness, I thought, however I am big enough and ugly enough to admit I was wrong. Yes, you heard it I like nettle syrup – Who knew?
What does it taste like then? Well, I can absolutely say it doesn’t taste like chicken. It is in-fact like eating fruit. It has a wonderful rich mango flavour I think, although Simon does not get that. He does agree fruity but just can’t pin down an exact fruit and with a little bit of a sherbet taste at the end it will tantalise your taste buds to imagine all sorts of fruits.
It is heavenly in porridge and makes a mean cool drink with sparkling water and that’s before you google the health benefits. It didn’t appear to take him too long to make it and if you were an unsuspecting recipient of said nectar you would admire and desire the rich honey coloured liquid, until you were told what it was at which point you may refuse it. That would be a big shame.
The only downside to this syrup is that it really smells whilst it is cooking. I did complain profusely as at that point I hadn’t tasted it so I used the smell to point out how awful the syrup was probably going to be. I know, childlike tantrums are never good when you are 54 but sometimes it is fun.
The smell really was nasty, but it didn’t linger long so just open a few windows and you will be fine.
Here’s how to do it if you are feeling fruity.
You will need
200g freshly picked nettle tops (wear gloves) – my advice take scissors to the tops of the nettles and drop straight into a freezer bag
1kg Granulated Sugar
40g Citric Acid (most chemist’s stock this)
500mls boiling water
Wash the nettles and make sure you haven’t collected any rogue plants by mistake. Dry the leaves, Simon used a teatowel, placed the leaves in it and patted them dry.
Then put the sugar, citric acid and water in a large pan, heat and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat and add in your nettles, stirring to make sure all the nettles are thoroughly covered.
Cover the pan and leave for a WEEK. You will need to stir it every day and will see the nettles start to break down and become slimy (Yummy).
After a week strain the liquid through a tea towel or thin cloth and bottle it into the sterilised bottles. Just one point don’t decant the cold liquid straight into hot bottles let them cool first otherwise they may crack.
That as they say is that you can eat the syrup anyway way you want. The last thing to say then is nettles are slowing down for winter now so unless you have a patch that has regrown after a cut you won’t have very many with new growth and old nettles will not do the trick. So be patient as this is totally worth the wait.
Whilst you wait