Nettles for health and beauty is not always the first thing that comes to mind. However they are a very effective and free ingredient. They are often too common, neither beautiful nor fragrant, and difficult to eradicate. Yet the stinging nettle is a most useful and nutritious weed. You can't beat nettles for health and beauty.
Nettles make excellent wine, refreshing beer and a tonic tea believed to purify and cleanse the blood. Nettles contain vitamin C, calcium, beta carotene, potassium and iron. The young leaves are delicious cooked like spinach or made into soups, stuffings and soufflés.
In many countries, such as Scotland and Scandinavia, nettles were cut, dried and steeped, and the fibres separated, spun into yarn and woven into cloth. Paper used to be made from nettles, a yellow dye was obtained from boiling the roots with alum and a green one from the leaves.
'Be not nettled, my friend,' wrote the poet Thomas Campbell (1777-1844), 'at my praise of this useful weed. In Scotland, I have eaten nettles, I have slept in nettle sheets and I have dined off a nettle tablecloth'
Nettles -Free food
While you can use nettles for health and beauty they are also very nutritious Nettles are best picked young, in spring or early summer, before flowering. They become coarse and bitter later in the year. Wear stout gloves when picking and preparing nettles. They lose their sting when cooked.
Traditional Recipe for Nettle Wine
• 2 quarts nettle tops
• 3lb sugar
• 2 lemons
• ½ oz root ginger
• 1 gal water
• wine yeast and nutrient
1. Wash the nettles thoroughly
2. Simmer them in half the water with thinly pared lemon peel and bruised ginger for 45 minutes.
3. Strain and make up the liquor to 1 gallon, using hot water.
4. Pour this hot liquor on to the sugar in a stone crock and add lemon juice and nutrient.
5. Stir until dissolved and, when the liquor is lukewarm, add the yeast.
6. Cover the crock and leave in a warm place for four days, stirring daily.
7. Transfer to a fermentation vessel and fit an airlock.
8. When the wine begins to clear, rack into a clean jar and leave fro three months before final bottling.
Traditional Recipe for Nettle Beer
• 3lbs sugar
• 2gal cold water
• 1 pailful young nettle tops
• 3 or 4 handfuls young dandelions
• 3 of 4 handfuls goosegrass
• 2 oz bruised root ginger
• 1oz dried yeast
1. Boil the plants for ten minutes then strain on to the sugar in a stone crock.
2. Stir until dissolved and when lukewarm, add the yeast.
3. Cover and leave in a warm place for five or six days.
4. Siphon off into clean screw-top bottles adding a teaspoonful sugar to each.
5. Leave until clear
Nettles for health and beauty includes making and drinking nettle tea.
Recipe for Nettle Tea
Boil young nettle leaves in water for about ten minutes for a tonic tea. Strain and sweeten with honey to taste. Or use the leaves, dried.
Nettle Rinse for Dark Hair
An excellent hair rinse for dark hair can be prepared with a generous handful of nettles simmered in a quart of water for about an hour, then bottled. Another example of nettles for health and beauty.
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