The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Raspberry recipes on The Cottage Smallholder site

Posted in Desserts, Fruit, Liqueurs | 6 comments

Raspberry recipes on The Cottage Smallholder site

I love raspberries. Could eat them every day. When I was working in London and dining out a lot, I would often order fresh raspberries with a sprinkle of castor sugar for dessert. Friends tucking into waist expanding desserts would think that I was mad or on an impromptu diet. They didn’t realise that each savoured mouthful took me into the heart of a long summer’s day. Luckily for me, raspberries are packed with vitamins and minerals and are classed as a super food. But the time that it takes to harvest them makes them rather expensive to...

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How to grow the best organic perpetual/everbearing strawberries

Posted in Fruit | 8 comments

How to grow the best organic perpetual/everbearing strawberries

Ta da! (Massive rumble of drums) Finally this year we are growing and will relish great strawberries! With a bit of trial and a lot of error. Home grown strawberries, picked and guzzled within minutes taste far, far better than any strawberry that you can buy from a shop. Freshness is important but if you grow your own you can choose varieties that taste superb but just don’t travel well and last for the number of days that the supermarkets need to display the fruit. Waitrose tried to sell the best tasting varieties of UK strawberries a...

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Growing and eating yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius)

Posted in Fruit, Vegetables | 11 comments

Growing and eating yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius)

If you have not cultivated yacon before it would be worth seriously thinking about growing it this year. If you are already growing yacon you will know why! So many of the little known vegetables are a bit of a disappointment – it’s easy to see why they are not in every garden in the land. Yacon is different. It’s delicious. It is a great contrast to most of the winter veg that we chomp through each year. It’s easy to grow and so versatile. Yacon is a perennial tuber from South America. There it is eaten as a fruit. In the UK it is...

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Choosing and cultivating the best autumn raspberries

Posted in Allotment, Fruit | 13 comments

Choosing and cultivating the best autumn raspberries

I’m a raspberry lover. When the dessert trolley rolls up in a restaurant I ignore the profiteroles and sticky meringues and go for raspberries sprinkled ideally with a little vanilla sugar. My passion for raspberries has led me astray recently. Our allotment site in Newmarket is a raspberry lovers haven. There is a narrow path that’s a shortcut to our plot. Here bushes laden with fruit tempt me. These bushes are so fructulent that the branches stray across the path – waving, tempting and teasing. I have to admit that I have snaffled on...

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Growing the best tomatoes

Posted in Discoveries, Fruit | 11 comments

Growing the best tomatoes

Growing tomatoes is quite easy but growing tomatoes well requires relentsless enthusiasm. Their growing period can last for six or seven months before the first small and fragrant harvest. They are susceptible to blight. If not watered regularly they can fail due to blossom end rot. If you don’t feed weekly when the first flowers appear they will not set much fruit. And of course it’s very hard to remember to nip out every side shoot on cordon tomatoes. And when do you ‘stop them’ (nip off the tops) to finish flower...

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Gilbert’s superb gooseberry gin recipe

Posted in Fruit, Liqueurs | 17 comments

Gilbert’s superb gooseberry gin recipe

It was Gilbert who introduced me to gooseberry gin. He produced a battered old hip flask out of a hidden pocket in his fatigues. We were foraging for wild cherry plums and were resting on a mossy bank. Gilbert opened the stopper with a flourish. “I bet that you haven’t tasted this delicacy before.” One sip and I was hooked and eager to make my own. I even had an old inherited hip flask knocking about the cottage somewhere. This particular brew was made from red dessert gooseberries. These berries are far less tart than the green ones...

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Update on the elderflower vodka

Posted in Fruit, Liqueurs | 13 comments

Update on the elderflower vodka

I had a sip or two of our elderflower vodka a couple of days ago. The flavour has improved and mellowed a bit. Unlike TCL’s – it’s drinkable – just. It has good notes when you open the bottle and sniff but the waft promises loads more than the grog actually presents. There is no trace of that early summer elderflower cordial zing. It might be the sort of shot that you’d be given to settle your metabolism and clean the blood. Faintly herbal, this elderflower vodka will never shine as a star in our cellar. We have three litres of...

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Easy Morello Gin recipe. Fruit liqueurs.

Posted in Fruit, Liqueurs | 35 comments

Easy Morello Gin recipe. Fruit liqueurs.

Fresh Morello cherries are quite hard to find in the UK unless you grow them yourself. We have two Morello cherry trees that I bought for 99p each from Netto a few years ago. One was supposed to be an ordinary cherry tree but clearly there had been a mix up of labels at the warehouse and we ended up with two Morellos. I was disappointed initially until I twigged that Morello cherries are the stars of cherry society. Their deep sour flavour is their saving grace – loads of opportunities in a wide range of dishes – from sweet to...

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