Natural Light

Wild Food & Nettle Beer

Our weekends are Sunday & Monday, as we work on Saturdays...
This Sunday we were washed out from working a few days & then going straight out in the evenings.
The weather wasn't brilliant, but on Monday we woke to beautiful blue skies & sunshine...

We'd already said we'd go out & collect some nettles, so off we went - though by the time we got out there it was 4pm, we do struggle to get going some days after working lots & just enjoy sitting with cups of tea either in the garden or at our dining table... We really are chatterboxes & sometimes I wonder how we can possibly find so much to talk about... But we do!

Just a minute from our door is the youth hostel...

Around the corner, the lane begins to go down towards the beach...
It's such a narrow steep lane & lots of big vehicles get stuck every year - our landlord, the local farmer always goes to the rescue.

The view...

And the nettles...

The hedgerows are abundant with wild food...
 The alexanders (on the right with yellow flowers) are massive this year & can be used like asparagus. They go particularly well in stir-fries or risottos. 

Goosegrass or Cleavers - Which we know as Sticky Willy.
We always add it to our beer...

The kidlets used to love finding sticky willy & delighted in secretly sticking it to our backs when on a walk! 

We also picked some 3 cornered leeks to add to our salads, but forgot to take photos & have eaten them all now!
 They taste like a cross between garlic & chives. 
We also eat the white flowers which look lovely in salads

We separated the nettles on our return.
 Some for beer...

And some to be dried in our airing cupboard...
 Which will then be chopped ready for our morning nettle tea.

Sime decided to add some dried hops to make a more bitter beer.
It doesn't look like there are many nettles in the pan, but the hops are sprinkled on the top.
We put in a large colander full of nettles, about 4 handfuls of goosegrass & a cereal bowl full of hops.

We boiled up the hops, nettles & goosegrass & simmered for about 45 minutes. 

In the fermenting bin we poured in 6 medium jars of malt extract.
Then added 1kg of raw cane sugar & a large pan of boiling water.
We stirred until the sugar had dissolved.

Then we strained the nettle mixture & added the liquid to the bin.
This filled the bin to about half way (it holds 5 gallons/25 litres).
We then finished off by filling the bin with cold water, we mixed the liquid thoroughly & were satisfied that the temperature was perfect for adding the brewing yeast (it needs to be hand hot).

This is what the beer looks like today - bubbling away...

The house now smells like a brewery & will take about 10 days to 2 weeks until it's ready to be put in the barrel - which is when the beer stops bubbling.

Next we're going to make a lemon balm bitter for the summer.

We've managed to eat outside again today...

A beautiful day...

And Sime's had a bit too much sun...

Bye for now.



Jane and Chris said…
I'm going to have to go an a forager's course. I'm still not familiar with everything on our property.
Jane x
Scarlet said…
Such a beautiful day and fab photos. Love the sound of three cornered leeks.
Kath said…
Too much beer more like LOL
Karin said…
You are very resourceful. I hope you enjoy the beer once it's ready. I'm not sure if we have any Alexanders near here - is it the only plant of that family with yellow flowers? I'd hate to confuse it with a poisonous cousin; I'm always wary of the hedge parsley family as it's related to hemlock. I know tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and aubergines etc are related to deadly nightshade, but they are far easier to distinguish.

I hope you've been able to enjoy the sunshine since Monday. We've got temperatures of 26 and 27 degrees forecast for today, so I'm keeping in the cool. I hope you haven't got it so warm if you are working.
Hi Jane - We have several good books to help us identify food, but one of the best is: Food For Free by Richard Mabey.

Kay :)
Hi Scarlet - 3 cornered leeks are delicious!

Kay :)
Hi Kath - The beer won't be ready for another 5 - 6 weeks yet...

Kay :)
Hi Karin - Here's a link for Alexanders:

It's a really useful database put together by our friend, Ken.

It's very hot today here too & I'm just about to start ironing lots of bed linen!

Kay :)
Unknown said…
We've just caught up with your last two posts. I read them out loud to Mr Sft and he enjoys hearing your news.

Thank you for sharing your story about France. You sounded so happy at the campsite and have such precious memories from those times. I'm not surprised you've learnt to love French accordion music. Mr Sft's nanna (now deceased) played one so we loved listening to the link you put on that post. So glad you got to go to the music evening and I'm sure Sime will join in with his guitar next year.

We have often looked at the Boswinger YHA as a place to stay and been close to booking it. We love youth hostelling. Yes it's cheap but it is far more than that for us, you end up staying in amazing locations and meeting great people.

We are planning a trip to Cornwall next Spring so who knows, we might stay there then.

We do a little foraging, but mainly for fruit to make jam. We use sloes, bulloses (spelt wrong) as well as blackberries.

My sister makes sloe gin and that tastes divine.

Just loving your posts. Thank you.

Sft x
Thanks Sft - we've both worked at the hostel & are friends with the managers, so we'd highly recommend it!

Foraging's great - food for free!

Kay :)
Catherine said…
You two are always up to something aren't you? No fear of getting a sun burn here, it snowed yesterday. Can you believe it?

Keep well you two ~ enjoy your nettle tea and your beer! :)
xo Catherine