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This year was my first year harvesting Purple Dead Nettle. I stumbled across it when researching stinging nettles and was intrigued by the name, then the next day I saw it everywhere.
 
 
 
It’s a small plant but grows in big stands and with its distinctive colouring it’s easy to spot. It pretty much grows everywhere, yards, parks, corners of parking lots. If a garden is left untended Purple Dead Nettle is sure to take it over quickly. Therefore it’s super easy to find!

 

 

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That first day I noticed it I picked a handful and added it to our dinner that night. The taste is mild and a bit earthy, I started thinking beets from the beginning. A day or so later I stumbled on huge beautiful patch that was flanked on both sides by other huge lush patches and filled my pockets and a small brown bag. That’s when I noticed the smell, its part of the mint family but doesn’t smell minty at all instead, it instantly reminded me once again, of beets.

 

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So that night I set to work on this. Beet and purple dead nettle are a match made in heaven. I wanted to get as much of the nutritional value from the dead nettle as possible while still making something fun . So here combined with my homemade apple cider vinegar which is full of good things itself, and organic beets from a local farm this “weed” has become a shrub.

If you don’t know what a shrub is, it’s a drinking vinegar. Fruit, sugar and vinegar combined to make a sort of syrup for adding to drinks, alcohol or other.

 

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This process is very simple and this recipe is a cold process shrub so it takes a couple days.

Start with preparing the ingredients, the beets need to be peeled and diced, the more surface area available the better so nice and small chunks, about a cm3. The amount of beets can fluctuate a bit. I used 3 medium beets which gave me 3 cups after it was diced.

 

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To prep the purple dead nettle just wash and remove most of the stem. The recipe used 2 cups of gently packed leaves. To get them ready to steep gently muddle them before adding them to the jar.    


I left a cup of beets out of the jar initially to add in after the dead nettle so it would weigh it down a bit.

The next step is to prep the sugar and vinegar. In a separate jar or container add in the vinegar and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. This recipe is 1 to 1 sugar and vinegar, that’s a lot of sugar to dissolve so it takes a while. Just keep stirring and it’ll get there eventually!




 

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Once it’s dissolved just pour the mixture into the jar with the beets and dead nettles. You could add in additional herbs and spices, lemon and or pepper corns I imagine would work nicely in this shrub.

 

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The last step is the water, only add as much as needed to cover the beets in the jar. In my 1000ml jar that ended up being about 2/3 cup of warm water. I added in the water last just to make sure I didn’t add more than necessary. No need to water down this glorious elixir.


Next, cover it and let it steep.


Fast forward to the next day, shake or stir the shrub then set it back in the fridge and leave it another day.








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By day two the flavored have started to develop and could be strained and consumed now. I left mine another day to get as much of that earthy beet goodness into the mixture. At this point the mixture can be strained through a sieve, save the beet chunks for a snack, maybe a salad.

Day three, the taste is rich and earthy, distinctly beet and oh so good. The mixture is sweet with a very subtle vinegar flavor. Had I used white vinegar or even a store bought apple cider vinegar I believe that flavour would have been more present but in this case it’s very mild. However after this point the flavors start to change and you start losing the really fresh taste and it starts to take on a more preserved flavour.

 

 

The colour is so inviting!

The colour is so inviting!

My favorite way to use this and any other shrub is over ice with sparkling water nice and simple. I found a 1:4 mixture is nice, 1 part shrub to 4 parts soda water.

Drink swiped during pictures …  - Confirmation of how good it is!

Drink swiped during pictures. It’s that good!

Making this shrub was super easy it does most of the work itself and being a cold process shrub means you are getting leaving all the nutrients of the ingredients intact! Try it!

 

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