The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

It’s my seventh week off work. Discovering great blogs and dehydrators.

Photo: Chic brunch

Photo: Chic brunch

I’ve been put on a two week course of antibiotics as the last course didn’t clear the kidney infection and I’ve finally been referred for a scan. Still in bed for most of the day, feeling peaky. I do get up in the afternoons and potter about.

So I’ve had the chance to do much more harvesting this year. I’ve developed a new plum chutney recipe, a good mango chutney and a tasty chow-chow (piccalilli). The recipes for the last two will appear on the site shortly.

Being home alone has meant that I have been visiting more sites and discovering some real gems. It also means that I can eat a chic brunch in the garden while I catch up with blogland.

I have been inspired and intrigued by the Starving off the Land 2009 challenge. Tamar’s plan of trying to eat something every day that has been harvested, grown or hunted by her and her husband is charted so well on this witty and well written site. It encouraged me to adopt the same challenge. And that doesn’t mean just making gallons of sloe vodka to have a daily ‘homemade’ night cap – although the hard work that the challenge involves might have one lunging for a bottle at the end of a gruelling day.

Apart from making essential liqueurs to see us through the winter months, I’ve been bottling (canning) fruit madly. Lots of wild cherry plums, pears in lemon syrup, apple and blueberry, blackberry and apple and even a pineapple that was reduced to 30p. We have been snacking on the occasional tomato but yesterday I harvested our first full kilo and bottled them.

I love the idea of bottling and not using the freezer. Then I started to think of other ways of preserving fruit and vegetables. Hank over at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook had me licking my lips over his dried zucchini.  But we don’t have a sweltering garage and I didn’t want to waste fuel running the oven all night.

I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a food dehydrator for a few weeks now. They can be very expensive (up to £250!) but with one I could dry tomatoes, courgettes, rosehips for tea. I could make prunes from wild plums and raisins from our very own grapes. I could even make beef jerky, dry herbs, mushrooms and figs – the list goes on and on. Danny wasn’t so enthusiastic.

I’ve been following a charming blog called Chickens in the Road for a few weeks now. Yesterday she was canning, freezing and drying some of her harvest. Within minutes I was trawling the internet for a cheap dehydrator. Well my birthday is just days away. I found an inexpensive 
food dehydrator
 that has had some good reviews on the UK forums and I also discovered that Westfalia have a 10% off voucher code at the moment SAVE10. So the was just over £30 including shipping.

Yes Danny, I know that I didn’t mention this when you rang last night but it’s ordered now…

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Catalina

    That sounds yummy!

    Hello Willow

    Using it to rise the bread dough – Brilliant! Thank you.

    Can’t wait for the dehydrator to arrive. I hate being dependant on the freezer.

  2. I too hope your health improves. We have a dehydrator which we also use to rise the bread dough. Wonderful for both uses.
    We dry apples, tomatoes, mushrooms amongst other produce we grow. It saves space and is not spoiled should your freezer break down.
    We invested in a 9 tray model with the heat being generated from a vertical element as research suggested this produced the most even drying. It is easy and works very well once you get the hang of how dry you wish anything to be. This is dependent on air humidity and the moisture content of whatever you dehydrate. My absolute fav is the Cox’s Orange Pippins which I munch on through out winter.

  3. My favorite dehydrator recipe is cantaloupe candy.
    Take 2×2 inch pieces of cantaloupe.
    Dip the cantaloupe in pineapple juice.
    Then roll cantaloupe in a mixture of powdered sugar.
    Place the cantaloupe on your dehydrator sheet and dehydrate until the pieces are dry, but still flexible.

    I love to add chile powder to the powdered sugar.
    It gives them a spicy kick!

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