The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Hot spiced plum chutney recipe

Posted in Preserving | 26 comments

Hot spiced plum chutney recipe

  I had a yearning for a new plum chutney. Something fruity, spicy and hot. A chutney that could accompany roast pork, lamb or duck and be good with cheese sandwiches. A chutney that would inspire me to find infinite ways to use it. We have a plum tree in our garden. It has large dark skinned plums. This year the harvest is enormous and during the recent high winds plums rained down on the driveway. Damaged windfall plums are perfect for making jam or chutney. I made a batch of our plum and tamarind chutney and then came up with this...

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Bottled fruit: enjoying the bounty seven months later

Posted in Desserts, Fruit, Preserving, Vegetarian | 22 comments

Bottled fruit: enjoying the bounty seven months later

When I sat down to savour the superb third day of creamy Greek yoghurt and organic blackberries and blueberries bottled last October from our own garden, I just had to take a photo. This is now pasted on the kitchen wall to  remind me how good bottled fruit is when I’m caught up in the bottling frenzy that dominates September and October. I do enjoy bottling fruit but sometimes it seems a bit of a palaver if I have other things to do. Sitting by the pond on a clear and sunny morning as the fruit and yoghurt combination burst in my mouth I...

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Baby turnip, Romano pepper and continental onion salad recipe. With a homemade walnut vinegar dressing.

Posted in Preserving, Vegetables and Sides, Vegetarian | 1 comment

Baby turnip, Romano pepper and continental onion salad recipe. With a homemade walnut vinegar dressing.

  Danny and I spent all day yesterday developing a tasty slow cooked spare rib recipe. I reckon that we eventually pulled it off as the dish was guzzled very fast and everything was almost licked clean. You can find our spare rib recipe here. I wanted to serve the ribs with rice and a crisp salad. Finely sliced Oasis baby turnips were top of my list to try. I teamed two turnips with a couple of continental spring onions and a slim Romano pepper. The turnips were sweet and spicy – rather like a more succulent radish. The dressing was a...

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Drying your own herbs

Posted in Preserving | 0 comments

Drying your own herbs

  The cottage is filled with the sweet aroma of coriander/cilantro. Later there will be wafts of mint, oregano, marjoram, lemon balm and sage. Tomorrow it will be garlic. It has suddenly got much colder here but there are still herbs to harvest to add to hearty winter dishes and give us a hint of summer again. Needless to say I’m using the dehydrator to do this. It makes quick work of the drying process which is good as J.P. gave me a sack full of coriander. We will return half of the dried coriander to them. A good swap in my book. We...

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Pine needle vinegar update on the making stage

Posted in Fun, Preserving, Save Money | 6 comments

Pine needle vinegar update on the making stage

  I dragged in the thoughtful gift from Anne Mary’s Caledonian pine tree and started to pull off the needles. They came off reasonably easily but they had a little brown husk on the ends that attached to the branch. As far as I could remember Robin Harford’s pine needles were green from tip to tail. So I shot upstairs to the laptop and examined his photos carefully. Not a dot of brown husk anywhere. The Sherlock Holmes in me detected that he’d probably cut the pine needles off the branch with scissors. I eventually unearthed our...

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Homemade pine needle vinegar

Posted in Hedgerow food, Preserving, Sauces Gravy Dressings | 12 comments

Homemade pine needle vinegar

  It was Danny’s turn to buy the Balsamic vinegar last weekend. Someone had put an expensive bottle of Balsamic beside the cheap ones in Tesco and he ended up paying five times more than he could have. The resulting shriek got me thinking about Balsamic vinegar in general. The price and quality of Balsamic vinegar can vary enormously. We have a very expensive bottle that we use occasionally for dipping or salads and generally have a ‘cheap’ bottle that we use for cooking. But cheap Balsamic vinegar is still much more expensive than...

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Make your own rosehip tea

Posted in Hedgerow food, Preserving, Save Money | 12 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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First tentative steps with hot water bath processing

Posted in Preserving | 23 comments

First tentative steps with hot water bath processing

  I woke up a few nights ago and realised that we had a water bath for processing our garden bounty hanging in the Bee Shed. This is a vast laundry pan with a double base. I have been boning up on hot water bath canning/bottling. I just wanted to process fruit and tomatoes for the winter. Other vegetables are being pickled, frozen or will be when the Food Dehydrator eventually arrives from Germany. Danny was suspicious. “If you put glass jars with lids on into boiling water they will explode. And you will break your precious Kilner...

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