The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Make your own rosehip tea

Posted in Hedgerow food, Preserving, Save Money | 11 comments

Make your own rosehip tea

  “Those two rose bushes beside the back door are totally out of control and need cutting back.” Danny remarked back in June. I couldn’t oblige as I was planning to make tea. The bushes got more and more flamboyant until they were given a harvesting haircut at the weekend. There are lots of roses growing in the cottage garden so we have a profusion of hips for preserving in the Autumn. I usually make rosehip and apple jelly and sometimes rosehip syrup but this year I’d discovered the huge benefits of drinking rosehip tea. This would...

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A quick guide to identifying some hedgerow fruit

Posted in Hedgerow food | 66 comments

A quick guide to identifying some hedgerow fruit

I’ve had quite a few emails recently about identifying hedgerow fruit so I thought that it might be helpful to post some of the pictures that I have. Sloes, wild damsons, wild cherry plums and bullaces all came from the same family – albeit distant relations. They all have stones and the bushes have similar leaves. The main problem seems to be differentiating sloes and wild damsons as they are both small and dark. Sloe bushes have sharp thorns and wild damson trees do not. Damsons have longer stems so hang and look more like a tiny plum....

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Hot crabapple chilli cheese

Posted in Hedgerow food, Jam Jelly and Preserves | 47 comments

Hot crabapple chilli cheese

I only discovered how delicious fruit cheeses are a few years ago. Until then I had rejected them out of hand – using the left over pulp from jelly making seemed skinflint behaviour to me. And anyway would this pulp have any flavour at all? I didn’t even bother to taste the pulp when jelly making which was a big mistake as I missed out on this treat. Fruit cheese can be sliced and served with starters, chops, roasts, cheese and even with fruit desserts. Crabapples, particularly when they first start to ripen often produce very little...

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Plum and Tamarind Chutney Recipe

Posted in Hedgerow food, Jam Jelly and Preserves | 31 comments

Plum and Tamarind Chutney Recipe

This can also be made with damsons – cut the tamarind amount by half and add more sugar to taste. Anyone who owns Oded Schwartz’s superb book Preserving  is very lucky indeed. Published in 1996 it is now sadly out of print. Danny found a copy on Australian Ebay for me one Christmas and I’ve used it endlessly since then. It is packed full of mouth watering photographs and inspirational recipes. Last week I spotted that he adds tamarind to a plum chutney, as this is one of my favourite ingredients at the moment my mind began to whir. How...

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Still laid up but I’ve been bottling foraged fruit

Posted in Cottage tales, Hedgerow food, Preserving | 42 comments

Still laid up but I’ve been bottling foraged fruit

I’m getting to the end of my third week being in bed. Finally last week my doctor discovered that I have a problem with my kidneys. I was beginning to wonder whether I’d just fade away like one of Dicken’s heroines. So now we are waiting for more test results. Meanwhile I languish in the big spare room bed feeling lousy. I get up for a couple of hours in the afternoon. I’ve been out on two mini foraging trips to harvest wild plums and have bottled (canned) six kilos to eat in the winter months. I’ve also been harvesting the chubby...

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Walnut vinegar recipe

Posted in Hedgerow food, Preserving | 3 comments

Walnut vinegar recipe

Last year I was a bit late picking walnuts for The Grand Pickled Walnut Challenge. Not wanting to waste the nuts that were clearly far too hard to pickle, I flexed my muscles and cut a few in half. I added these to some white wine vinegar, popped the experiment onto a shelf in the barn and forgot all about it. About a month ago I was searching the shelves for empty vodka and gin bottles to make raspberry liqueur. My hand slipped and the bottle of walnut vinegar smashed on the ground. I managed to wipe a drop onto my forefinger as the vinegar...

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Hot crab apple and chilli jelly recipe

Posted in Hedgerow food, Jam Jelly and Preserves | 112 comments

Hot crab apple and chilli jelly recipe

Everyone seems to be talking about chillies. They are said to trigger “feel good” endorphins and are packed with vitamin A, an immune system boosting antioxidant. Chillies improve the digestive process too as they stimulate the action of the intestine and stomach. This year I was determined to make crab apple and chilli jelly. My first attempt was so so. There was a chilli tingle when I tasted the juice. I chucked it away. My recipe from Oded Schwartz’s Preserving added 3-4 medium heat chillis. Are these desseded? I’d...

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The old English legend of the Devil and the blackberries

Posted in Hedgerow food | 13 comments

The old English legend of the Devil and the blackberries

“Don’t pick blackberries after October 11 as the Devil gets in them.” Mrs Houlton eyed my basket as she stirred her tea. Way back then I’d blackberry for my mum. She liked them scattered in a crumble or a handful tossed into apple compote. They were a great little present before I returned to University. “What exactly do you mean?” I was intrigued. “Well it’s an old English tale, really. The saying is that the Devil was kicked out of heaven on October 11th. He landed on a blackberry bush. It must...

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