Foraging for free in April’s kitchen

Have you noticed how everything is suddenly greening up in the hedgerows? It seems to happen all of a sudden and I love it! The recent rain along with some gorgeous sunshine has made everything start growing and I was out for a walk spotting all the new growth along the footpath including the nettles! They were looking so young and fresh and it reminded me of the most delicious drink that we were once given during a garden visit to Forest Gardens in Old Sleningford, (in N. Yorkshire)

It was so refreshing and got everyone talking and we were all amazed that its main ingredient was a pest that nobody wanted in the garden!

So, if you have a crop of stinging nettles appearing then make the most of them and don’t just throw them on the compost heap! Make sure they’re the stinging variety and only use the young first flush of growth. And obviously wear gloves to go picking!

Nettle Cordial

Makes about a litre. Takes about half an hour plus standing time

About 300g young stinging nettle tops- only use the top 4-6 leaves

1kg granulated sugar

40g citric acid (available from chemists and Amazon)

500ml water

Sterilised bottles and caps

Nettle cordial - use good gloves web

  • Wearing gloves wash your nettle tops and if you have a salad spinner use that to get them dry. Otherwise gently pat dry with some paper towel.
  • Pour the water into a large pan and add the sugar and citric acid. Bring gently to a the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool to about 60 degrees C.
  • Put the nettles into a large plastic or glass bowl and pour over the liquid. Stir together
  • Cover then leave in a cool dark place to infuse. Stir every day for a week.
  • Nettle cordial Stir to cover web
  • After a week sterilise your bottles and lids
  • Strain the nettle cordial through a jelly bag or line a sieve with muslin. Leave to strain for a couple of hours.
  • Stain nettles -web
  • Pour into your bottles and label
  • Once a bottle is opened keep the cordial in the fridge. It should last for a couple of months at least in opened bottles.
  • Nettle cordial - web

Now enjoy as you wish – dilute to taste with still or sparkling water or add lemonade. It’s really good drizzled on fruit salad as well. This year I’m going to experimenting and add it to some fruit purees so as soon as I get some rhubarb, I’ll try adding it to that!