nettle tincture

Following my inspiring visit to the apothecary, I was determined to make a tincture.

tincture © elisa rathje 2011

Being impatient, I got started with enough vodka to cover some nettles that I’d wildcrafted and dried last spring. These are fine, but not ideal.

tincture © elisa rathje 2011

Ideal is fresh, new growth, which arrives in early spring and early autumn. Once we’d had a chance to catch our breath after settling back into the old cottage, I went out to pick some nettles. The bright hearty leaves look like just the thing for a strong tincture. Don’t forget heavy gloves when foraging for the fierce things!

tincture © elisa rathje 2011

I filtered out the dried nettles, which had had a good long infusion in alcohol, and poured the infusion over the fresh leaves. Sort of a double infusion, nearly. I had to add a bit more vodka to cover. Now I’m shaking the jar daily, and will probably do this for a good month before straining off, bottling, and using my nettle tincture. A dropperful will be perfect when I haven’t had time to make the infusions from the dry leaves that the children like so much, and when I just need a little bit extra to escape autumn colds. We’re having a bit of a summer revival this week, so that all feels like a long time off! Next I’m hoping to find enough rosehips for a few bottles of cordial, to store away with our winter remedies.

nettle infusions

Our little one has a cold. I’m pleased to have the rosehip cordial around for her, and some homeopathic pulsatilla, and it’s excellent timing for some very cosy organic cotton pajamas to have shown up in the post for her today. Tomorrow I hope to pick up a whole chicken to make a broth, but for now, I’m making nettle infusions. Luckily our children like them. This is a great way to get vitamins and minerals, and very inexpensive – free if you harvest the nettles yourself. I tend toward the anemic side, so nettles are an excellent herb for me.

We put on heavy gloves in the spring or early autumn to gather the fresh new leaves of the stinging nettle. I lay them out on a tray and pop them in a low oven after we’ve finished baking something else. They dry quickly and lose their sting. Then we crush them into a jar to keep for infusing later. I put a cupful of dry nettles in a jar, and pour a few cups of boiling water over them, cover with glass or ceramic, and leave to infuse at least twelve hours, usually twenty-four. The infusion should be a very dark green. I love how blood-strengthening foods announce themselves with their dark colours.


Strain and drink it cool, or heat it up on a chilly day like this frosty one we’re having. It’s nice with lemon and a bit of sweetener, we use stevia. I sometimes use a french press for these kinds of infusions. My grandmother used to make nettle soup, and friends make nettle tortellini. Do you use nettles?