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Spring | Nettle


Meet nettle. Most of us are familiar with the sting of the nettle which grows throughout the UK and is available most of the year. You might know some of her other names such as common nettle, burn nettle, stinging nettle, bichchhu or Urtica dioica



Watch the nettle video embedded at the bottom of this page - also available to watch on YouTube and Vimeo.

Most of us will be familiar with the stinging nettle 

and can no doubt vividly recall the sudden stinging, numbing

sensation if you even so much as brush against this plant.

Nettles grow throughout the UK and are available most of the year

but the new spring growth is said to be the most nourishing.

The white, purple and yellow deadnettle

all mimic the shape of the leaves of stinging nettle but have no sting

and so, really, the best way to tell if you are dealing with nettle or not,

if you're not sure, is to see if the plant stings you!

There is a special way of picking the stinging nettle so that it doesn't hurt you

if you grasp the top young leaves from underneath the point

where they meet the stem very quickly and decisively

you can avoid breaking the hairs containing the stinging acid.

However, if you don't wish to take that risk,

wear rubber gloves to pick your nettles.

Shake them free of insects, wash them

and roughly chop with a pair of scissors.

Nettles are an excellent nutritive tonic 

- they contain high levels of vitamin C, iron and other minerals

and can be used to treat anaemia (a lack of iron in the blood) and low vitality

It has also been found to be very useful

in treating asthma and chronic lung complaints.

Fresh nettle soup is very popular among foragers,

substituting nettles for spinach in the recipe

and that is certainly one good way to prepare them.

However, in this video,

we are going to show you how to make a nettle oxymel.

'Oxymel' comes from combining the two Greek words for 'acid' and 'honey'

and is a delicious way to take your medicine.

Fill a jam jar all the way to the top with your fresh nettles.

Pour apple cider vinegar over the nettles until they are completely covered.

Put a lid on your jar, label the contents including the date,

and leave in a warm spot for at least 2 weeks

and anywhere up to 6 weeks.

When they are ready, strain through a muslin cloth, 

give the plant remains to the compost

and re-bottle your nettle vinegar.

This is excellent to use as it is - taking 1 tsp in a little water every day

or else as your salad dressing.

But to make this into an oxymel,

add the same amount of honey as you have nettle vinegar

- so, for example, if you have 100ml of nettle vinegar, add 100ml of honey

Gently heat them together so that they combine thoroughly,

then bottle and label and you will have a traditional treatment for asthma

or just a delicious multivitamin and mult-mineral daily supplement!