The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Can you unlock the Park Berry Mystery?

Posted in Hedgerow food | 21 comments

Can you unlock the Park Berry Mystery?

Mildred left a comment on the post “Can you identify this fruit” asking if anyone could identify a fruit that she had found in her local park. “My query, if anyone can help, is about a tree in the local playing field. They are similar to the photo at the top of the page but smaller, only about 15mm, and round. They are red. The inside looks the same too. They seem to be growing in clusters like elderberries grow – not at all like the crab apples on my friend’s tree! At present only a few have turned red, the rest...

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Can you identify this fruit?

Posted in Hedgerow food | 32 comments

Can you identify this fruit?

Jelly making is on hold. I was working today and returned home to roast chicken with all the trimmings. As Danny stirred the gravy, I Googled for pictures of medlars. The few that I found didn’t look a bit like my “medlars”. I have only heard about medlars and seen some line drawings. The cross section of our fruit looks like a medlar. The outside does not. Panic. We tasted the fruit and chilli combination when it was simmering yesterday, without any ill effects (except that it tasted bitter and rather nasty). We both agreed...

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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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Blossom means fruit

Posted in Hedgerow food | 3 comments

Blossom means fruit

Driving down to Essex this morning, I was enjoying the May (Hawthorn) blossom, the blue skies and sunshine, when I suddenly realised we are just on the brink of all blossom bursting out in the hedgerows. Most of this blossom will turn into fruit which in its turn can be picked for fruit gin, wine, jelly, chutney and jam. Blossom is much easier to spot in the hedgerows than fruit. As I purred along at the wheel of a companionable Jalopy, I suddenly realised that if I can identify the blossom of the fruit I particularly like, I can easily find...

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Rosehip and Apple Jelly Recipe

Posted in Hedgerow food, Jam Jelly and Preserves | 139 comments

Rosehip and Apple Jelly Recipe

Rosehips are ripening and perfect for picking now. Some people wait until after the first frost, when the rosehips will be soft. We start picking from the first week in September. They need to cook for longer but we know that they’re really fresh. They’re high in vitamin C and a great asset for the self sufficient smallholder. As a child, I remember my Mother giving us rosehip syrup (a dessert spoon daily). It was rather good. Nowadays, we make apple and rosehip jelly. The rosehip flavour combines well with the apple. This is a...

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