The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


The great sloe gin challenge: The Results

Posted in Christmas, Liqueurs | 62 comments

The great sloe gin challenge: The Results

Picking sloes to make sloe gin is hugely popular in the UK.  Perhaps because it combines the hunter gatherer instinct and the delight of making your own tasty grog. Although traditionally it is drunk at Christmas, it’s the most popular drink to be proffered in a hip flask out here in the country. There is a lot of competition over who has the best brew, secret recipes are not aired and shared. To be offered a sip of ten year old sloe gin is an honour, not to be turned down. It’s two years since we completed this challenge and I must...

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Mixed soft fruit vodka liqueur recipe. Harlequin grog.

Posted in Liqueurs | 21 comments

Mixed soft fruit vodka liqueur recipe. Harlequin grog.

Tiny hands clapped with glee when we surveyed our potential black, red and white currant harvest back in the spring. The gooseberries looked promising too. “We can make loads of schnapps and finally our own red currant jelly. This year I’ll make some gooseberry sauce for Christmas and some gooseberry vodka with the dessert gooseberries.” “The gooseberry vodka didn’t last long. When you made it last year.” “I only had a couple of shot glasses. This year I’m going to hide it away.” The sawfly must have been...

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Walnut Wine – Vin de Noix

Posted in Wine | 7 comments

Walnut Wine – Vin de Noix

Having started the pickled walnuts I still had loads of nuts left over, so I looked around for other green walnut recipes. I was tempted by an Italian walnut liqueur that my last hairdresser makes every year. He buys pure alcohol in Italy and makes enough to last him until the next annual visit. He loved it and his wife hated it. Perhaps a perfect state of affairs when it comes to sharing precious grog. Some recipes suggested that it could be made with vodka but I decided to wait until we visit Italy again and can buy the alcohol. Finally, I...

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Blackcurrant vodka (schnapps)

Posted in Liqueurs | 15 comments

Blackcurrant vodka (schnapps)

My fruit cages have given me so much pleasure, both in the construction and the ogling the of fruit. But I’ve been under pressure recently and only had time to pick raspberries. “Tonight I must have half an hour to pick the currants (white/red/black) otherwise I’ll miss them.” So Danny volunteered to cook the vegetables and I sauntered down to the currant and gooseberry patch with a large trug. There was a reasonable harvest from the white currant bush. Just enough to make one bottle of white currant vodka. The dessert...

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Irene’s Strawberry vodka liqueur recipe

Posted in Liqueurs | 28 comments

Irene’s Strawberry vodka liqueur recipe

I’ve had a few emails asking for a recipe for strawberry liqueur. I haven’t made it myself but Irene shared her recipe in the comments on our post Two recipes: Wild Damson Gin and Sloe Gin recipes. This is the most visited post on our blog. The credit crunch has seen an upturn of visits too. And why not? There’s nothing like the distraction of homemade grog when times are getting tough. I spent a couple of hours analysing the jungle of srawberry liqueur recipes on the internet but always Irene’s recipe sounded best. I...

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Homemade wine tasting

Posted in Wine | 17 comments

Homemade wine tasting

I sampled our two and three year old rhubarb wine on Monday. And the 2006 greengage wine. All pretty good and as Danny said, “They taste just like wine.” But I reckoned that they need more time. As Daphne Moore writes in Discovering Country Winemaking, a wine that is unpalatable can often improve with keeping. Now I can see where she is coming from. I started winemaking with enormous enthusiasm and hope. I like wine. Always fancy a glass or two with supper. If we could make our own gluggable wine it would be brilliant. So I...

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Don’t miss the dandelions. Gilbert’s dandelion wine recipe

Posted in Wine | 25 comments

Don’t miss the dandelions. Gilbert’s dandelion wine recipe

Have you ever tasted dandelion wine? Dandelions can be annoying in the garden. They’re a palaver to remove as their tap roots are thick and sturdy. But they are the key ingredient in an excellent homemade white table wine. Gilbert will sometimes pour a glass if you pop round on a summer’s evening. As long as you are on foot. The first time that I sampled his patent recipe, it slipped down like water from a clear cold stream. I accepted a second glass. After the third, I had to feel my way home. Two years ago I picked the dandelions...

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A fruit a month (AFAM) event. April 2008.

Posted in Liqueurs | 7 comments

A fruit a month (AFAM) event. April 2008.

I had just finished my post for this evening – April flowers from the garden and was planning to drift upstairs to bed and the solace of clean sheets and a Min Pin or three, when Margot from Coffee & Vanilla invited me to the A Fruit a Month blogging event that she is hosting. Last day today. Blogging events are good news. They open up the blogging world, introduce people to new blogs and ideas and a whole lot more. It’s easy to slip into the rut of writing a post, chatting to virtual friends and rarely leaving home. I...

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