The name doesn’t shout come and try me, sounding in the same league as a “Tom and Barbara” concoction such as Runner Bean or Parsnip wine, but, trust me, it’s darn good. I’d describe it as a bit like Ginger Beer. I’ve given it to hundreds of people over the years on my Spring Greens foraging courses and it always amazes people how good it is leading to requests of “where do I get the recipe”. If that praise has tickled (as oppose to stung) your fancy (whatever your fancy is), then here is the recipe. I’ve just got some underway and am looking forward to it being ready. I am no homebrew expert – it’s really easy to make, doesn’t require any special equipment, and (most important) is ready to drink in about a week, so give it a go – you will be pleasantly surprised. So get your gloves on, and go and pick yourself some nettles while they are nice and young.
It is taken from Roger Phillips’ excellent book “Wild Food” (every forager should have a copy).
Scale the below proportionately based on how many bottles you have!
- 100 nettle stalks with leaves
- 12 litres (2 1/2 gallons) water
- 1 1/2 kg (3 lb) granulated sugar
- 50 g (2 oz) cream of tartar
- 15 g (1/2 oz) yeast (I use dried baking yeast)
- Boil the nettles in the water for 15 minutes.
- Strain, then add the sugar and cream of tartar and stir until dissolved.
- Remove from the heat and leave until tepid, then add the yeast and stir well
- Cover and leave for a day
- Remove the scum and decant without disturbing the sediment and bottle.
Do use strong bottles as it can get rather excited; you don’t want exploding glass bottles! I use swing top homebrew bottles, but empty, plastic, fizzy drink bottles will do the job too.