Saturday, February 19, 2011

Herbal Ally Challenge #6: Completed

"Nettles are so well known, that they need no description; they may be found by feeling, in the darkest night." 

This week brought us balmy days. The snow and ice started melting right away and hopeful, I struck out to my wild patches of nettles in search of life. Sure enough, I found 2 tiny plants, braving the colds to come alive. The babies were stocky, thick looking and extremely bristly as if bracing themselves against any cold that may come back in the future days of late winter and spring.

For my tincture, I chose to use Everclear as I'm not sure what I'll use it for yet. I'm sure I'll find plenty of uses for it and will probably even make a second tincture with the appropriate alcohol.

Richo has suggestions for making the leaf fresh and dried, the root fresh and the seeds dried. I have been unable to locate a source for dried seeds (other than for planting purposes) so I'll have to wait and harvest them this fall.

Roots should be harvested when they are dormant. Since the weather has improved considerably this week I'm hoping to be able to dig some roots and tincture them up soon.

According to Richo, dried nettles should be tinctured 1:5 (1 part nettles to 5 parts menstrum) in 50:50 alcohol/water. Not being a purest, I estimated 1/5 of the jar and added the appropriate amount of nettles, eyeballed a bit over 50% to account for the fact that Everclear is not 100% alcohol, added the Everclear then topped it off with filtered water. If I had been thinking ahead, I would have used some of the rainwater I have stored in bottles in the basement for soap making purposes or melted some of the remaining snow. 

I gave the jar a good shake and labeled it. I'll shake and check up on it every day for the next 3 weeks or so. Once a week I'll taste it and note the changes in flavor. 


I'm still drinking infusions. My latest stash of dried leaves are from Mountain Rose Herbs. They taste much better than my previous purchase from my local health food store which are from Frontier Herbs. They still don't compare to my own harvest though. Come on April so I can harvest them! I'm lucky enough to have access to a field of them at a local conservation area. They think I'm nuts to want to harvest them but welcome me doing it since they grow everywhere and don't like spraying (and I was crushed when I saw them spraying a section of them last year!)

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