Week 4, Day 3

April 7, 2011 § 4 Comments

Total purchases: 0 (hurrah, and what’s better I think it’s 2 days in a row. Maybe I should have some golf style monica’s for such occurrences)

Things planted: 3 – Carrots, salad, sweetcorn (very good)

Trips to allotment: 1 (and it was mine today, unlike yesterday where my good intentions were subverted by offer of lunch and later cake at someone else’s allotment)

Hours spent at friends house: about 4, and jolly nice it was too (especially as it included pancakes for lunch and chocolate crispies).

This evening, I’m mainly considering nettles.  I was mildly flattered to find I have inspired a more proficient gardener than myself to do some blogging http://canleyfoodproject.blogspot.com/2011/04/nettle-drying-digging-and-salad.html and note with interest that she has been drying nettles harvested from her allotment to make tea.

I too have nettles.  In more than one place at my allotment.  I don’t think I’d drink nettle tea (indeed I’m pretty sure we have had some commercially  bought bags lingering in the cupboard for several years), so I looked up what else I can do with nettle tips (you only use the young leaves) in Wild food for Free by Jonathan Hilton (which I gave Him for Christmas) and the River Cottage Cookbook by Hugh Fernley-Wittingstall (which we got as a present ages ago).  The options seem to be

  1. rinse them and wilt in the resulting drops of water that stick to the leaves and then serve with butter and pepper, like spinach (both books are in consensus on this – although the latter comments that nettles are mildly laxative, which is vaguely worrying, but then so is orange juice)
  2. make nettle soup – Hugh suggestion,  complete with recipe where he describes it as a “truly luxurious dish”
  3. brew into beer – which Jonathan Hilton suggests adding (to my astonishment) that it takes about a week.  But then no further information is given

I don’t think I have ever eaten nettle leaves (although I do remember sucking the nectar from the flowers as a child).  Things seem to be pointing that way, if only so I can reclassify several patches of my allotment as “cultivated”!

I’m intrigued by the soup .  Nettle soup and luxurious were not two words I expected to find in the same sentence and I like the fact that one option is to thicken it with rice cakes instead of potato. But I’d need to buy some of the ingredients (including cream, which I don’t normally buy, and celery, which I probably couldn’t get locally), and I don’t have any proper stock as recommended. Plus, my children are notoriously bad with soup.

So for tomorrow, I think I’ll try a variation on 1. I doubt I’d persuade children to eat wilted nettles, but they do eat wilted spinach chopped and cooked with scrambled eggs. And I have a now thriving spinach plant at the allotment (about the only thing that currently is apart from the nettles). So I’m going to try spinach and nettle scrambled eggs, possibly with some of the wild garlic leaves that are still in the fridge (from my veg box) added too.

If it works, then I’ll try option 2 at a weekend, when it’ll be easier to cook soup and more people will be around that will eat it (rather than dip their bread into it once at most).

And if that works, then maybe I’ll try the beer.  A quick search on google has found a recipe from an interesting looking site, http://www.selfsufficientish.com/nettlebeer.htm, unless anyone has a tried and tested recipe they can recommend?


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