• Kerry Bowness

Nettle cordial

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

Many people think of common or sting nettles as a savoury green, but they make the most wonderful and refreshing cordial. This is often one of the samples participants get to try on spring foraging courses


Sting nettles make the most refreshing cordial - but do wear gloves when harvesting them!

There is nothing that compares to the taste of nettle cordial. It really is unique and distinctive. Participants on foraging courses are often pleasantly surprised when they try it for the first time. It is very simple to make and nettles are abundant.


I like to served it with sparkling water for extra "ahhhhh" refreshment!


Remember to wear gloves when harvesting nettles. Marigolds work well.


There are two methods that can be used, I have included both. Ingredients are the same for both, but quantities vary.


Recipe ingredients - makes 1 litre

1kg young nettle tops (use top four-six leaves) - (500g for warm infusion method)

500ml water

500-750g sugar (the amount you use will determine sweetness and thickness)

2tsp citric acid or 8tbs lemon juice (double this amount for warm infusion method)


Method (boil)

  1. Pick through the nettles (keep your gloves on for this) to remove any unwanted debris

  2. Rinse nettles and leave to drain well or pass through a salad spinner

  3. Combine sugar, water and citric acid/lemon juice in a non-reactive pan

  4. Bring mixture to the boil, stirring to prevent scorching and ensuring all sugar is dissolved

  5. Remove from heat

  6. Taking care and still wearing gloves, add the nettles to the syrup

  7. Ensure nettles are completely submerged using a clean wooden or silicon spoon - the heat will deactivate the stings at this point

  8. Cover pan and set aside for 4 - 6 hours

  9. Prepare sterilised bottles

  10. Bring the mixture up to a simmer (lid on) and simmer for 15 mins

  11. Strain, bottle, complete by canning, allow to cool and refrigerate

The resulting cordial/syrup should keep for at least a month to six weeks unopened in a refrigerator.


Method (warm infusion)

  1. Pick through the nettles (keep your gloves on for this) to remove any unwanted debris

  2. Rinse nettles and leave to drain well or pass through a salad spinner

  3. Combine sugar, water and citric acid/lemon juice in a non-reactive pan

  4. Bring mixture to the boil, stirring to prevent scorching and ensuring all sugar is dissolved

  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool to 50-60C

  6. Taking care and still wearing gloves, pack nettles into a sterilised non-reactive container, such as glass preserving jar

  7. Pour liquid over the nettles and use a clean wooden or silicon spoon to submerge them.

  8. Cover with muslin and set aside for five days. Agitating the mixture twice a day

  9. Prepare sterilised bottles

  10. Strain the mixture and bottle

This cordial/syrup using this method will last 1-2 days unopened in a refrigerator.


The infusion method gives a more sour cordial, due to the additional citric acid, which helps prevent mould growth. It also has a less destructive effect on nutrients within the nettle. However, the shelf-life is much reduced.


Discover more wild edibles and recipes on a foraging course and read more about common nettles here

The warm infusion method. In both methods the volume of the nettles will reduce dramatically when the warm sugar syrup is added

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!