Having come through another bad bout of depression just recently, I’ve been really enjoying and valuing my time spent with the plants, even more than usual, and one of the bounties most loved right now is the nettle tops that grow abundantly round the garden, though I’ve no doubt that before long I’ll be grumbling under my breath as I try and free my less rambunctious herbs from their rapid envelopment! I’ve been enjoying a good nettle tonic in the spring the last couple of years, and this has been no exception. Incredibly easy to make, richly tasty, green and full of vitamins, Grandmother Nettle gives a gloriously green blessing of juice that is a great kick to the body, encouraging healthy liver function, better skin, and helping the body to get rid of excess phlegm. Move over wheatgrass, its time for the nettle! Here’s how to make it.
Take out a cloth foraging bag or a basket if the day isn’t too windy, plus a glove of some sort for your picking hand (I’m a wuss, I’m afraid – I pick gloved! If you pick firmly, you can usually avoid getting stung, if you want to go that route!) Gather up a good bag or basket full of the young nettle tops – I tend to only take the top few inches, especially as the weather slowly warms up and we head towards the first nettle flowers of June. Check the leaves as you pick to make sure they are clean, healthy and free of bugs or bird poop. When you get inside, pack the leaves into a food processor and pour over a few tablespoons of hot water – if you have a nutribullet or some other handy juicing tech, you won’t need the water, but I find that the juice doesn’t extract too well in a standard blender without the water. Whizz the nettles and water up until you have a thick green brown liquid in the bottom of the processor, and the nettles are well pulped, then pour the lot into a muslin cloth over a sieve and jug. Gather in the edges and squeeze the living daylights out of the nettle, and a thick, minerally liquid will cascade into the jug. Have a sniff – it smells like deep woods and springtime in a cup! I’m always taken aback by how glorious fresh nettles in the spring smell – its a green, rich, slightly citrusy scent, and I adore it! But I digress. The nettle juice can be poured into a cup and drunk immediately, or pour it into ice cube trays and freeze it to add to soups, stews and smoothies. I love to drink it neat, and will happily knock back a half cup without thinking twice about it. Just magical!