The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Green bullace jam recipe

Posted in Jam Jelly and Preserves, Preserving | 16 comments

Green bullace jam recipe

  If you missed the greengages a few weeks ago don’t panic. The wild greengages (green bullaces) are ready to pick now. These are not green cherry plums, which will now be yellow through to deep red when ripe. Green bullaces are green, fall into your hands when you touch them and taste just like a a mini version of our modern greengage. They are the tiny ancient ancestors of our cultivated greengages. I like to imagine cave families going out to forage for them. Now, as way back then, they are free. For years I’ve visited a small stretch...

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Bottled fruit: enjoying the bounty seven months later

Posted in Desserts, Fruit, Preserving, Vegetarian | 22 comments

Bottled fruit: enjoying the bounty seven months later

When I sat down to savour the superb third day of creamy Greek yoghurt and organic blackberries and blueberries bottled last October from our own garden, I just had to take a photo. This is now pasted on the kitchen wall to  remind me how good bottled fruit is when I’m caught up in the bottling frenzy that dominates September and October. I do enjoy bottling fruit but sometimes it seems a bit of a palaver if I have other things to do. Sitting by the pond on a clear and sunny morning as the fruit and yoghurt combination burst in my mouth I...

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Apple and Blackberry Cordial recipe

Posted in Cordials and Syrups | 19 comments

Apple and Blackberry Cordial recipe

2009 is a great year for blackberries. We have loads in our garden and I’m bottling them and processing them for winter. I’ve also become very interested in cordials. Danny has started using my Lemon and Elderflower cordial instead of white wine in cooking. I reckoned that Blackberry and Apple cordial  and a Wild Plum cordial would appeal to him. Deep into Oded Scwartz’s Preserving I read his words on making cordial, “Boil for just 4-5 minutes as you don’t want to turn it into jelly.” Basically making cordial is very easy...

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Fiona’s Elderflower and lemon cordial recipe

Posted in Cordials and Syrups | 11 comments

Fiona’s Elderflower and lemon cordial recipe

I love drinking citron pressé on a hot summer’s day. This is the juice of half a large fresh lemon, topped up with caster sugar and ice cold water. I discovered this drink on holiday in Brittany when I was nine years old and have enjoyed it ever since. So this year I thought it would be fun to make an Elderflower cordial with a distinct lemon kick. I’ve just finished bottling it. The result was a zingy grown up cordial that balances tangy lemon with the fragrant buzz of elderflowers. Delicious with iced water (my first teetotal sampling)...

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Homemade elderflower and raspberry jellies recipe

Posted in Desserts | 11 comments

Homemade elderflower and raspberry jellies recipe

Somehow I missed the elderflowers last year. One moment they were nodding down at me but when I went out with a basket the next weekend the flowers had turned brown. Elderflowers need to be white and fresh for cordial, wine or anything else. Once the brown tinge appears on the flowers they have gone bitter.  If I had searched in shadier spots, I might have found perfect elderflowers but I just didn’t have the time. Having missed out on all the elderflower recipes I’ve been keeping a beady eye open for this year’s first frothy flowers....

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The Pickled Walnuts project. Stage one.

Posted in Chutney and Pickles | 11 comments

The Pickled Walnuts project. Stage one.

“What on earth are you doing, Fiona?” I was sitting on the floor on a large plastic sheet, wearing rubber gloves and stabbing green walnuts on an old bread board with a carving fork. No wonder Tessa was intrigued. I’ve been desperate to get my hands on some green walnuts for years. About 10 days ago I spotted some on a friend’s tree. It was just at the end of the picking green walnuts season. “Take all you like but hurry or they’ll be too hard to pickle.” She picked one and sliced it firmly with a...

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Don’t miss the dandelions. Gilbert’s dandelion wine recipe

Posted in Wine | 25 comments

Don’t miss the dandelions. Gilbert’s dandelion wine recipe

Have you ever tasted dandelion wine? Dandelions can be annoying in the garden. They’re a palaver to remove as their tap roots are thick and sturdy. But they are the key ingredient in an excellent homemade white table wine. Gilbert will sometimes pour a glass if you pop round on a summer’s evening. As long as you are on foot. The first time that I sampled his patent recipe, it slipped down like water from a clear cold stream. I accepted a second glass. After the third, I had to feel my way home. Two years ago I picked the dandelions...

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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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