There are young nettles wherever we look at the moment, here in our part of the UK. I’m not sure when it crossed my mind to try and make a liqueur from them, but the seed got planted so I decided to give it a go.
A liqueur is simply a sweetened alcoholic beverage made from a distilled spirit such as vodka that has been flavored. Fruit, cream, herbs, spices, flowers or nuts are the traditional choices, but you will also find some more imaginative creations on the internet including various candy concoctions such as Skittle Vodka. Our Nettle Liqueur is definitely a more earthy affair than that, but is equally simple to make, and really tastes rather good.
To make I collected approximately 40 nettle tops, which I washed and dried in a salad spinner, and then popped in a jar with the zest of 2 lemons. I then topped up the jar with a litre of vodka and left it in a dark place for 48 hour to steep. Liqueurs can take anything for a couple of days, to a couple of months to take on the flavour of the added ingredients, with herbs and flowers often not taking very long at all, so do check your infusion periodically, and expect a certain amount of trial and error.
Over the 48 hours our infusion got progressively darker, and to be honest I expected it to taste pretty disgusting when I tried it, but in fact it tastes really rather good. It has a pleasant earthy taste, and you definitely know its nettle based, with a taste reminiscent of the Nettle Cordial we made last year. After straining we sweetened our Nettle Liqueur with a little sugar syrup, and bottled it. We are storing it in a dark cool place and will be testing it regularly to see how it matures over time.