This really is delicious – both as a mixer for The Botanist and as a cordial. It is incredibly easy to make. Pick about a carrier bag full of nettle tops in springtime. They are at their best when they are forming dense beds no more than a foot tall. Before they flower anyway. The best flavour comes from the top four leaves, which are very easy to pick using rubber kitchen or thick gardening gloves.
There are a number of different ways to make a very tasty syrup. The easiest is to add the sugar to the water and bring to the boil, simmering until dissolved. Wash and pick over the nettles, the lemon balm or lemon zest and steep in the hot syrup until it has cooled right down.
Drain through a sieve (let it drain naturally – don’t push the liquid through). That’s it – it is as simple as that.
If you fancy some little green nettle flecks through the liquid – take a small bunch of nettles and blanch then in another pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain and chop finely before adding to the syrup. Store in sealed bottles or jars.
Tip – if you have left it a little late in the season and your local nettle beds are tall and stringy, you can chop them down – and within a few weeks they will have regenerated with fresh new growth that is perfect for picking…