The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Cider and Cyder (Premier Cru)

Posted in Liqueurs, Reviews | 8 comments

Cider and Cyder (Premier Cru)

We have a glut of apples this year. I’ve been meaning to try my hand at cider for a few years now and I am hoping that this year will be the start of cider making at the cottage smallholder. I wanted to invest in a proper wooden cider press until saw how much they cost. So we decided to go down the economy route and invested in a plastic bucket and a slicing attachment that attaches to a electric drill. The Vigo Puplmaster (Walker Desmond) looks a bit lethal and would be handy if Triffids ever stepped through the front gate. Meanwhile,...

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The Great Sloe Gin Challenge – Three variations of our sloe gin recipe

Posted in Liqueurs | 162 comments

The Great Sloe Gin Challenge – Three variations of our sloe gin recipe

No one seems to agree on the right time to pick sloes for sloe gin. “Pick after the first frosts,” advise the traditionalists. “Pick them in September, before the bushes are stripped bare,” chortle the enthusiastic. “Pick them now and give them a chilly blast in the freezer, to give the effect of the first frost,” suggest the practical. There are other questions too. If the sloes are left to mature until the first frosts, do they have a better flavour? Does the quality of gin affect the liqueur? Should one...

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Gilbert’s blackberry whisky recipe

Posted in Hedgerow food, Liqueurs | 41 comments

Gilbert’s blackberry whisky recipe

If it wasn’t for the fact that he was wearing his battered panama, Jalopy and I would have not noticed Gilbert. He was wearing some sort of camouflage fatigues and carrying a bucket. Curious, we drew to a halt beside him and he swept off his hat with a magnificent bow. “I suppose you want to know what I am foraging for.” He tipped the bucket towards Jalopy’s open window. It was full of large, succulent blackberries. Actually, I was far more curious about the fatigues. “Ah!” He lowered his voice to a whisper,...

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Raspberry vodka recipe

Posted in Liqueurs | 145 comments

Raspberry vodka recipe

Note: Raspberry Vodka is probably the best and easiest of all homemade fruit liqueurs. It and raspberry gin are our all time favourite. “One for me,” Gilbert popped a raspberry into his mouth, “and one for the bottle.” He pressed a juicy raspberry through the top of an empty vodka bottle. “What on earth are you doing?” Marjorie had sent me into the garden to join Gilbert. He was sitting on the terrace beside a large bowl of raspberries. Several bottles of vodka and a funnel beside him. “Marjorie...

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Book review: A great country winemaking book for under a fiver

Posted in Reviews, Wine | 0 comments

Book review: A great country winemaking book for under a fiver

I found this book Discovering Country Winemaking by Daphne More on the church fete bookstall a couple of years ago. A snitch at 30p. It’s pocket size disguises it’s value. In fact, it was several months before I flopped beside the fire and gave it the attention that it deserves. Daphne More, a well known journalist, has written a number of books focussing on country interests. I wasn’t surprised to see recently that this one is still in print after 27 years. Her gentle and yet authoritative style would appeal to all country...

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Gilbert’s Seville orange gin recipe

Posted in Liqueurs | 21 comments

Gilbert’s Seville orange gin recipe

In January, Gilbert makes Seville orange gin whilst Marjorie is making marmalade. He says there’s nothing like a glass with a stale husk of bread when their marmalade runs out. I’m sure that this never happens as I’ve seen Marjorie stirring dustbin sized vats on their Aga. Their house was filled with the heavy scent of marmalade last weekend. Like us, they simmer their marmalade for hours to get the depth of flavour and dark colour that livens up even the soggiest piece of toast. We’ve known Gilbert for years but were...

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Kumquat Liqueur (Gin or Vodka) recipe

Posted in Liqueurs | 27 comments

Kumquat Liqueur (Gin or Vodka) recipe

Our old friend Gilbert introduced us to kumquat liqueur. He serves tiny glasses of this elegant tipple with an exotic fruit salad on Marjorie’s birthday. We were intrigued and clamoured for the recipe. Gilbert refused to share his secret. The resulting impasse was a challenge. If he hadn’t topped up our glasses it could have been war. We couldn’t take up this challenge for months as we had to wait until kumquats appeared in the local supermarkets. Finally the day came and I rushed home with two small packs of kumquats and a...

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Quick Bubblegum Gin

Posted in Liqueurs | 2 comments

Quick Bubblegum Gin

We’ve just got back from having supper with our friends Kim and JP. They live in a fabulous converted barn deep in the wilds of Suffolk, with three horses, three hens and a very perky nine year old Jack Russell called Pickle. Before supper Kim announced that she was going to show us the contents of her favourite kitchen cupboard. She knelt down and threw open the doors. Not knowing quite what to expect, we stepped forward and peered into the gloom. There were rows and rows of 3 litre Le Parfait jars of sloe gin standing stoically side...

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