The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Guest spot: Eat your greens! by Steve Kirk editor of The Bushcraft Magazine

Posted in Vegetarian | 6 comments

Guest spot: Eat your greens! by Steve Kirk editor of The Bushcraft Magazine

The spring foraging season is just beginning and I’m determined to make the most of it this year. I was delighted when The Bushcraft Magazine contributed this article from a past issue. This magazine is great resource for tips on foraging and a whole lot more. The Buashcraft Magazine also runs foraging courses. The first foraging course is in Kent on April 19th 2008. Check the details of their courses here. Eat your greens! Our guide to foraging some of nature’s delights in the spring countryside by Steve Kirk editor of The...

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Superb sloe vodka recipe

Posted in Liqueurs | 126 comments

Superb sloe vodka recipe

We have found that most fruit recipes work equally well with gin or vodka. With a few exceptions. Raspberry gin is sublime and dessert gooseberry vodka is to kill for. Their cousins, Raspberry vodka and dessert gooseberry gin are companiable and gluggable but not the super stars of the cocktail cabinet. We traditionally always make sloe gin. Lots of it. This year I has so many sloes that I decided to give sloe vodka a whirl. A litre of vodka made two 750ml bottles of grog. One for the cellar and one for testing and tasting. I need to clear a...

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Free sloe gin in return for foraging rights

Posted in Liqueurs | 25 comments

Free sloe gin in return for foraging rights

I enviously read the comments on our sloe gin articles from people who have exultantly harvested kilo upon kilo of fruit. I’ve been out on several mini forays where many large families have obviously harvested there before me and the remaining pickings were thin. Today, I was in our local shop, chatting to John about home made grog. Having lived in this area all his life he is a wonderful source of local knowledge and has a great fund of stories and reminiscences about the locals, living and dead. “Aren’t the sloes amazing...

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Green Bullace gin recipe

Posted in Liqueurs | 29 comments

Green Bullace gin recipe

I worked for a few hours today. Saturday. Sometimes it’s worth doing some time at the weekend when the builders are not there. It’s peaceful and I can crack on. Two hours usually seems to drift into four hours and suddenly I see the sun getting lower in the sky. I shot home at 4.30 pm, desperate to catch a couple of hours in the garden before dark. As I passed Broad Green I noticed the footpath to the bullace hunting ground. I had checked the bullace situation a few weeks ago. Hedge trimmers had ripped along the hedgerows, chopping...

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Fermented sloe gin recipe: a new approach to making sloe gin

Posted in Liqueurs | 52 comments

Fermented sloe gin recipe: a new approach to making sloe gin

I don’t know whether you saw Colin Boswell’s comment on “The Great Sloe Gin Challenge – Three variations of our sloe gin recipe”. He outlined a method of making sloe gin by fermenting the sloes first and then adding the gin to the liquor. Having been brought up on traditional sloe gin recipes his comment was a revelation. I love sloe gin and like most other sloe gin makers am keen to make a great brew. I hate to admit it but it would be great to impress my liqueur making guru, Gilbert. This recipe gives me the...

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Quince jelly and other quince recipes revisited

Posted in Jam Jelly and Preserves | 50 comments

Quince jelly and other quince recipes revisited

I decided last week to turn some of the quinces from Anna’s garden into something delicious. I rubbed off the fluff, cut them into chunks and covered them with water and the zest of a lemon. They were simmering on the gentlest setting (lid on) for about four hours until they softened and the juice took on that deep pink hue. I strained the juice through a jelly bag overnight and popped both the juice and the strained flesh into the fridge. I was delighted to discover that both keep happily in the fridge for a couple of weeks. 800g of...

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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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Wet walnuts

Posted in Discoveries | 60 comments

Wet walnuts

Years ago I used to visit Partridges, a wonderful delicatessen on Sloane Square. From now, throughout October and sometimes into November, they sold wet walnuts. I discovered this delicacy there. Wet walnuts are fresh walnuts that have not been dried for keeping. They are crunchy with a milky, mild walnut taste and excellent with a soft cheese, in a salad or a sauce. They are also packed with omega 3, if you need an excuse for rushing out to taste them. You neededn’t point your car in the direction of Partridges if you live in the...

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