They’re back and they’re bad – as my fingers, still stinging two days later, can attest. So far this year I’ve only picked a few nettles, to add to teas or green juices, so it was a pleasure to get out in the bright sun this weekend and gather some fresh young tops for making a spring tonic tincture.
Sarah Furey told me that Stephen Church of The Herbarium told her (who says the oral tradition is dead) that the young nettles appearing at this time of year which have a reddish tinge to their leaves are particularly high in minerals and make for an exceptionally nourishing spring tonic tincture. It makes sense doesn’t it, when you think that the reddy colour can often signify the presence of iron.
This is one of those wonderful examples of how using our senses to observe the subtle changes in plants throughout the year can give us so many clues as to their healing virtues.
Later, when the nettles grow tall and vibrantly green, their diuretic and kidney tonic properties are more prominent.
In the true spirit of enquiry, I decided to make two nettle tinctures this year to compare and contrast the differences in taste and action.
I gathered enough young nettle tops for a couple of litres of tincture, washed them thoroughly and allowed to drain. I made a 1:2 tincture but, as the nettles were fresh, it will probably end up more in the region of a 1:3. If you’d like specific advice on tincture making, the best place to visit is the afore mentioned Herbarium which has brilliant instructions for making tinctures from various different plant parts. You can read the first part of the series here.
I packed my blender with the nettles and alcohol (vodka is fine for this tincture) and pulsed it until the nettles were nicely broken down but not pureed. Then it went into the jars where it will macerate for two weeks in a cool dark place being shaken and blessed daily.
And there were just enough left over to add to a green juice with some cleavers, fennel, celery, cucumber, apple and ginger.
Delicious and radiant, the nettle is so abundant and full of virtues we should count ourselves very lucky to be surrounded by it.