So many of my friends and loved ones suffer from the misery of hayfever, a rather unpleasant issue that can ruin spring for so many; when they’d rather be out enjoying the flowers and warmer weather, they are instead stuck indoors keeping away from the very things that cause such misery. I’ve found quite a few folks who attend my workshops have had some luck using nettle syrup to ward off the hayfever symptoms, allowing them to be out roaming the woods and meadows or enjoying their gardens instead, so here is a recipe for a rather tasty nettle syrup that I’ve made regularly over the last few years. I hope it provides some assistance!
You will need:
Several large handfuls of Nettle tops (go for at least two loosely packed pints if possible)
Lemon zest and juice of one lemon
Spices if preferred – cinnamon, ginger and star anise work well.
Brown sugar – an equal amount to the resulting decoction.
At least 1 pint of water – if you have two loosely packed pints of nettle, two pints is better.
Check over the nettle for bugs or bird poop, and rinse them off if needed. Chop finely, discarding any discoloured bits or any patches you aren’t happy with, and put the finely diced herbs into a saucepan – enamel, stainless steel or glass is best, avoid aluminium as it will leech into your remedy and really isn’t good for you. Add the two pints of water and bring the whole lot to a gentle simmer. Add the lemon zest and juice, and the spices if you wanted to add them (best to give these a bash in the mortar and pestle first as these often have a hard coating that makes it difficult for the water to get at them if they are not broken first.) Simmer the herb, spice and water mixture for at least ten minutes to extract as much goodness as possible, then take it off the heat and cool slightly.
Strain the liquid through jelly cloth and put the resulting decoction back into a pan – the spent herbs can be composted. Add at least 500g of sugar per pint of liquid, more is better as it will preserve for longer. Honey unfortunately does not work for this kind of recipe as it just doesn’t preserve long enough when diluted with water, though if you did prefer to use honey, freeze your remedy in ice cube trays and take a cube out when needed. Return your pan to the heat and bring to a gentle boil, keeping a close eye on it – sugar burns very easily! Simmer gently until reduced down by about 1/5th. The consistency of the syrup should start to change about now, becoming thicker. Take off the heat and pour into clean bottles, capping whilst still hot to get a good preservative seal on the bottle.
Nettle syrup can be taken year round to support the immune system and improve the body’s ability to resist allergens in the atmosphere, ideal if you or a friend or loved one suffers from hayfever or allergies. Plus its pretty tasty so you may find that even small folk and tricky patients will happily take it regularly! Take around 10mls in the morning to build up the immune system, or a similar dose twice a day if hayfever season has already kicked in and you are feeling pretty miserable with it. Back it up with plantain tincture or regular cups of plantain tea soothe hayfever if its already well entrenched.