The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Marmalade Dayzzzz


Photo: A pile of Min Pins

Photo: A pile of Min Pins

This past two weeks or so I have been caught up in a fever that hits the UK from mid January to the end of February. The great marmalade making bonanza. I was determined to develop a new range of recipes for the gate side stand  – from dark and chunky to light and dainty. I have come up with two new easy recipes. I’ve also made a few discoveries and now feel much more competent when it comes to making marmalade.

In fact I think that I was probably up a bit too long each day, falling asleep the instant my head touched the pillow. Only to be woken by the laptop gently sliding off the bed.
So this morning I returned to bed after a hearty breakfast and slept all day, waking after dark under a pile of bickering Min Pins and nightclothes (they adore sleeping on my clothes).

So that is why I have not been responding to comments. Please accept my apologies – I’m looking forward to tackling them tomorrow.

For a bit of feel-good warmth I’m going to relate what happened to us on the gate side stand over the last couple of days.
Yesterday I went out to check the stand at midday and was delighted to discover that the gaps menat that someone had obviously bought three jars of preserves. The jars are small – just 220ml. This means most are priced at £1. I rushed upstairs to tell Danny. Having worked on a London market stall for ten years in my 30’s, I know that January is the worst month for my type of stand. So any sale is a bonus.

At the end of the day I unlocked the cash box like a latter day Silas Marner and found just 2p along with the change that is always in there so that coins don’t have a hollow, hopeless drop. Within the next few seconds I whizzed through a range of emotions, from shock and rage to grief. Of course we will lose a jar from an unmanned stall every now and then, but to take three and just leave 2p really hurt.

Eventually I calmed down. I had a strong sense of who had done this and an equally deep belief that she would return and repay the money once her husband had tasted the preserves. He would want more.

And this morning I spotted a lady with the same hair and car colour as my suspect. She examined the stand for ages. I didn’t put 2 and 2 together until I stepped out to restock after she had gone.

She had bought three jars and left the money for six!

  Leave a reply


  1. Dee Knight


    I’m so inspired by your stories and comments!! I have just started growing veg and would like to sell them and hopefully some pickles/preserves from a table at the end of my drive with an honesty box. I was wondering if you have to get any council/authority permission to do this?

  2. seahorse

    The clove marmalade was too treacly and bitter, due to the molasses sugar (nasty stuff!) but I see you posted a solution elsewhere on the blog, for which I’m eternally grateful!

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Bridget

    I’m envious that you can grow limes! I adore lime marmalade.

    Hi Tricia

    The gate side stand is fun. It gives the day a bit of focus. Wow I’ve just looked at your to do list – makes me feel quite faint.

    Hello Alison

    Yes it was amazing that she came back. I’ve made an orange and grapefruit marmalade too – like you I love marmalade.

    BTW I love your etsy shop it’s delightful!

    Hi Joy

    Yes you can use frozen raspberries – that’s what I did. I thawed them out and added them to the Le Parfait jar with their juice. It worked a treat.

    Hi Petoskystone

    Our marmalade isn’t as sweet as the commercially produced stuff.

    We have a recipe for Mango chutney which is sweetish. Our plum chutney is pretty good too.

    Hi Shelley

    That’s amazing. A good feel good story. It’s a shame that so often we expect the worst of people – when I pointed out to the supermarket cashier that he hadn’t charged me enough for my Seville oranges he was amazed!

    Hi Chris

    I agree with you. She shouldn’t have stolen the goods in the first place but she did come back – which was great.

    I’d rather have an honesty box than man the stall. It’s a very sleepy village with few passers by.

    I do hope that things get better for you this year.

    Hi Karen

    That’s a shame that your honesty box is always short. Up until now everything has been fine and sometimes we even get extra cash.

    Hello Angela
    Thank you so much for this comment. The book is a great idea. This is definitely the way forward for me.

    Hi Danny

    You’d waste hours watching the stand and getting depressed when people walk by without looking!

    Hi Tamar

    Yes my cockles were warmed too!

    Hi Shannon

    Great that you’ve got Min Pins too. They get under your skin and we wouldn’t be without our yappy friends.

    Hi Cathy

    If you are selling from your garden gate there are no regulations in the UK but if you were selling to a local shop there would be. Apart from honey which has to be properly labelled and coded wherever it’s sold from.

    On the cookbook front we were going to produce one for Christmas 2009 but with me being off work we ran out of cash. Haven’t given up the idea though.

    I’d love to meet up when you’re next in the UK.

    Hi Casalba

    I agree a webcam would put me right off.

    Hi Bill

    I’m sorry but I don’t have a recipe for diabetic marmalade but I think that Seahorse has answered your question.

    Hi KB

    Thanks for this comment. I think that I’m going to do the same for the Christmas stand – I haven’t tried adding alcohol to marmalade as yet.

    Hello Seahorse

    Thanks for your help with Bill’s question! Much appreciated.

    Your marmalade sounds amazing.

  4. seahorse

    Hi KB, I’m interested to hear more about your Highland Black, as I just made something similar. Mine has a very strong taste, almost like liquorice. I also added cloves. What does yours taste like? Did it have a long slow cook? Can you taste the whisky?

    Bill, I have a diabetic friend who is helping me try out making a diabetic marmalade. We’re using fructose from Holland and Barrett. Use a bit less than the recipe suggests, about a third less, as its sweeter than regular sugar. Also, you may need to add some pectin in the form of certo or your own (mine is from my juice extractor that i use for apples in the autumn).

  5. I make marmalade too, and then store it to sell at Christmas. I used to make a number of different kinds but the demand for one is so high that it is the only one I make now. I call it Highland Black. I use molasses and cane sugar as the sweetener, and then just before sealing each jar gets a splash of single malt scotch. By the time Christmas arrives the flavours have blended perfectly. No matter how much I make, I never have as many as I can sell!

  6. Hi

    You dont happen to have a recipe for sugar free marmalade do you; I am diabetic (2) and I would love to try making my own jams etc


  7. If I lived nearby, I’d certainly be one of your customers. The pen and pad idea is great – folk could leave comments on the produce too which might entice others to try that product.

    Danny, your webcam would put me right off! I just wouldn’t feel comfortable stopping and having a browse. Whatever your intentions, it would look like a security camera and defeat the object of an honesty box which, 99% of the time works a treat as this customer showed.

  8. Wow. I love Danny’s idea for your stand, and I’m relieved to hear that the woman made right on her purchases after all.

    I also love hearing about the things other people are selling on their stands.

    Is there any worry about city regulations and all that in the UK?

    We hope to begin selling from our garden later this year, and we’re having to jump through some hoops in order to do so.

    Fiona, have you ever thought of making up a cookbook of your preserving recipes? I would buy a copy.

    The next time I’m in the UK, I’ll plan my itinerary so that I can stop at your gateside stand.

  9. Love the Min Pin Picture… wehave always had Min Pins & We love them..full of personality and they love to climb under blankets and clothes..Love your page..lots of good info..Thx

  10. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand

    Doesn’t it just warm the cockles of your heart when people behave decently! My cockles are glowing.

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