Gloves are obviously a must when picking Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica), but use plastic ones, as you'll still get stung through cotton or material gloves, for a number of days afterwards actually, as the sting has a nasty tendency to hang around. Pick only the tips of fresh nettles - the top 2-6 leaves, depending on age.
|Infuse the nettles in boiling water until cool|
|Stinging Nettle infusion / tea|
This recipe is from Andy Hamilton's book 'Booze For Free', which is a must-have for those interested in creating weird and wacky beverages - from Horseradish vodka to Sumac lemonade, this book is all you need. The ingredients listed below are straight from the book, but for my brew I adjusted the quantity of all the ingredients proportionally to how many Stinging Nettles I had collected, if I remember correctly it was around ⅛th of the stated volume.
- 22 litres of water
- 2kg (4 carrier bags full) of nettle tips
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Juice of 2 oranges
- 3kg sugar
- 100g cream of tartar
- ale yeast
- Large saucepan / cauldron
- Fermentation bin (I used a sterilised bucket)
- Muslin / cheesecloth
- Siphoning tube (I didn't use one)
Boil all the water. Place clean nettles into a fermentation bin and pour the boiling water over them. Allow to infuse, cool, and then strain back into the cauldron/pan. Add the lemon and orange juice, sugar and cream of tartar. Heat gently and stir until the sugar has dissolved - do not boil. Pour back into the fermentation bin and leave to cool to room temperature before pitching the yeast. Cover tightly with a muslin cloth and leave in a warm place for three days. Siphon/pour into bottles and leave to condition for a week before drinking. Serve cold.
|After pitching the yeast|
|Cover with a cloth for three days|
|Cloudy brew before the silt settled|
As I didn't siphon the pitched yeast mixture that had sat for three days, the silt got stirred up when poured into the bottles - after a day or so it'll settle and your beer will turn clear like the picture below.
Beware - this stuff is explosive! It's OK of you're opening a kilner jar of the stuff, but if you've bottled in a bottle with a narrow neck it acts kind of like a Stinging Nettle roman candle, covering the roof in precious booze.