This morning on my customary bowl of porridge I enjoyed a glug of nettle syrup. I can assure you that it’s not as unappetising as it sounds. Like maple syrup it is caramely sweet but with just a tiny hint of nettle essence. If you weren’t aware of it’s pedigree you would never guess that nettle leaves were the main ingredient. It is both a treat and a tonic and so easy to make. I adapted the recipe from a beautiful and much cherished book that my sister bought me.
Here’s how I went about it:
I picked about 1kg of fresh nettle tops and placed them in a large saucepan with 2 litres of water. A handful of lemon balm leaves also went into the pot. I brought the water to a boil and simmered for an hour. Then I strained the lot through a piece of muslin and placed back in the pot with 800g of unrefined caster sugar. The spent leaves went onto the compost heap. Carefully stirring in the sugar I brought the heat up to a gentle rolling simmer until the liquid began to thicken. This took about 30 minutes. Then, after cooling, I decanted it into sterilised bottles/jar. I ended up with about 1 litre of syrup.
You really have to taste it to believe how surprisingly lovely it is. I even went as far as making some snazzy labels to tempt my reluctant family into giving it a shot. After much cajoling it eventually got the thumbs up. I urge you to get out there and gather some nettle tops before they they flower and make the most of one of our hedgerow heros. Let me know how you get on!