Mincemeat

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Mincemeat

Serves: Makes roughly 100 shallow Mince Pies
Approx cost: €4.40
Approx calories (per tsp): ~20
Approx preparation and cooking time: 3 hours

Adapted from a recipe at Delia OnlineHome-made Christmas Mincemeat

If you’re English, you’ll know all about the joys of mincemeat – well, a lot of people seem to detest the stuff, but I’ve always been a huge fan. The name mincemeat for many non-Brits conjures up an image of this, and indeed, I’ve heard stories of people who’ve bought our delicious Christmas delicacies, Mince Pies, taken a bite, expecting meat inside, only to get a mouthful of… “fruit?”. Well, despite the odd name, let me reassure you that this stuff is actually delicious. The idea of adding suet to a dish may be a bit off-putting for some, but in vegetarian-friendly countries (of which France is not one, alas) you can often buy shredded vegetarian suet, made from vegetable oil. If you cannot buy shredded suet at all, then you can make it yourself very easily. Simply buy a lump of beef or mutton fat from around the loins or kidneys of the animal and then grate it, like you would cheese. Commercially, it’s usually tossed in flour which makes it more stable and have a longer shelf-life.

Not convinced by this? Well – wait until you see how it looks before you judge too harshly! In a nut-shell, mincemeat is a whole load of dried fruit, mixed with sugar, brandy, nuts and spices and we use it to, mainly, fill pies with. Traditional ingredients in mincemeat are raisins and sultanas, currants, almonds, apple, candied citrus peel, ground ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, but the great thing with this is that you can always modify it to suit your tastes. Add some dried apricots, cherries, walnuts, plums – whatever you like. Once you’ve made this then you have no excuse to not immediately start churning out a huge batch of delicious mince pies. The yield of this recipe will mean you have enough for almost 100 shallow mince pies, or about 70 deep-filled ones, depending on how you make them.

Mincemeat

I’ve made a post last Christmas on mince pies. The pastry recipe is my mother’s and while everyone has their own favourite shortcrust recipe, this is the one which always makes me think of home, thus for me it’s the perfect accompaniment for your mince pie. I will be making another post on Mince Pies – not really a “redux” because they’re going to be exactly the same, pretty much – but I’ll be in on vacation at the time of posting so hopefully I can provide you with a few photos along with the post! Anyway, on to the recipe, and have a great day everyone!

Ingredients

Mincemeat ingredients

  • 200g Raisins
  • 180g Demerara Sugar
  • 140g Sultanas
  • 120g Currants
  • 110g Shredded Suet
  • 70g Candied Orange and Lemon Peel
  • 40g Almonds
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Orange
  • 1 large Granny Smith Apple, or other sharp, tasty variety
  • 2 tsps Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 tsps Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 tsps Ground Ginger
  • 1 tsps Ground Cloves
  • 5 tbsps Brandy

Instructions

  1. Start off by pre-heating the oven to 100 degrees Celsius and then core the apple. Dice finely and then chop the almonds into as small chunks as possible.
    Chopped apple and nuts
  2. Great the zest from the orange and lemon, before cutting the fruits in half to extract the juice into a bowl.
    Squeezing and zesting the citrus fruits
  3. Transfer everything except the brandy to a large, oven-proof bowl or pan. I didn’t have such an article, so I used a steel saucepan which I removed the handles from. Place the raisins, sultanas, currants, sugar, candied peel, spices, almonds, orange and lemon zest and orange and lemon juice, the diced apple, and finally the suet, into the pan, and mix well. Cover the pan with aluminium foil and place into the pre-heated oven for 3 hours. Please note, the use of the oven isn’t designed to “bake” anything – hence the low temperature. The  idea is to melt the suet and have everything well coated in it, and allow the flavours to infuse and develop!
    Blending the ingredients together
  4. After 3 hours have passed, remove from the oven and uncover. There will be a lot of fat at the bottom of the pan. Allow the mixture to cool, stirring every now and again, and once it is cool you will notice that the fat is now coating the fruit nicely. Pour in the brandy and mix well.
    Post-cooking
  5. Wash some canning/preserving jars thoroughly and you then place upside down in an oven to pre-heated to 180 degrees Celsius for 5 minutes to sterilise. Carefully remove after this time and transfer the mincemeat into the jars, before applying the rubber seals and close the jars firmly. The mincemeat should last for many months, as long as you have sterilised the jars well. The obvious use for it is, of course, mince pies, but you can also make tarts and other things with it. Enjoy the taste of English Christmas! :)
    Mincemeat



    Mincemeat

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44 Comments

  1. Aww… this makes me miss an aunt of ours who's recently moved into a retirement home in Kent. She made the best roast goose, mince pies and Christmas goodies. She's so old now and not able to travel (or cook) comfortably so I guess I'll have to make this myself. Thanks to you, now I can tell her, it's a genuine British recipe :D I also like the idea of just leaving it in the oven and not having to cook it over a hot stove.

    Reply
    • Thanks Ping! I made a goose last year – I'd never had one before so I was very excited when I saw them in the store at Christmas time. I wasn't expecting it actually… the colour of the meat is very dark, almost like duck, and the amount of fat it has… whoa! I pull off so much before cooking the goose, and rendered it with a little water. I made enough for two full jars which I've been using for my roast potatoes ever since last Christmas! I made a stock with the bird carcass when we had finished the meat but it was so fatty. Of course you can skim the fat off, but it's still a really rich stock – a bit too rich for my tastes I think.

      I cracked open my second jar of mincemeat on the weekend – I'm so pleased I made it myself instead of just buying some. It was really a success, and much cheaper than buying it ready-made. Not only that but it was ridiculously easy to make yourself. Not sure why people buy it now :) Hope you're having a good day!

      Reply
  2. I am really tempted to make this with butter instead of suet. I know both are animal products but butter is just more palatable to me. Do you know of any having successfully made it with butter instead of suet? PS. Fab photos and directions!

    Reply
    • Hi Green Goddess! Yeah, I saw someone making it with butter just the other day, although don't forget you can also get vegetarian suet, which is made from a blend of vegetable/plant oils and it generally works just as well. Nada, over at "Fleur d'Oranger, Masala and Co…" makes it without suet. Recipe link here. Without the suet I think the mincemeat wouldn't be quite so firm, but definitely still delicious! Thanks for dropping by :)

      Reply
      • Just continuing from my comment… would you then suggest the packet my friend picked up had this 'vegetarian suet' in it?

        Reply
        • Hi Fati – I would think so! I'll reply in-line with the other comment :)

  3. Okay, I need to try a mince pie. They look far more appetizing than I ever would have guessed. And I think by being able to pick the flavors the kids would enjoy these too. I don't know if I'll have time before the holidays, but I'm putting these on our list. Are you getting excited for your vacation? I can't wait to see pics. :)

    Reply
    • "Are you getting excited for your vacation?"

      Am I ever?! It'll be nice to get away and relax. Can't wait to post photos too! It'll be my first winter there so I'm a little scared about the cold! Will be a great trip!

      Hope you have a chance to try the mincemeat – it's far more appetising than it sounds from the name ;)

      Reply
  4. Charles, I have read and heard about mincemeat so many times, but I had no idea it would seem so delicious. Beef suet doesn't scare me at all: my grandmother's cheesecakes were the best in the world because of the pork fat.

    Your jars must make wonderful Christmas presents. I'm looking forward to see your mum's pie crust! Have a lovely time with your family!

    Reply
    • Thanks Sissi – my wife scolds me because whenever I ask if anyone wants a try of this in a mince-pie, I always start by introducing it as the most disgusting thing ever, highlighting how fatty and gross the suet is. I could really "sell" my stuff in a much kinder light I think :D

      Reply
  5. Like Sissi, I'd heard/read about mincemeat in various novels about British life. I have no problems with suet (I've eaten the scrambled sheep brains with eggs and onions my mom made when I was a kid) but I'm a bit on the lazy side about some things so I'd probably buy the jarred mincemeat if I was going to be making any mincemeat tarts. They're right up there with Maid of Honor tarts as far as intriguing dessert names that I hope to make one day.

    Reply
    • "scrambled sheep brains with eggs and onions" – eeek :D

      Yeah – you can buy the jarred mincemeat, which is also very good usually – you can even buy the ready made pastry… it's just not the same though, you know? If you have time next year, I'd really recommend giving it a try – its so fun to do, and not at all hard! Maid of Honor tarts I've never heard of – I'll go look them up now… sounds intriguing!

      Reply
      • This is the recipe I am going to make.

        Maids of Honor Tarts II

        Servings: 12

        1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie

        1/4 cup raspberry jam

        1 egg

        1/2 cup white sugar

        1/4 teaspoon salt

        2 tablespoons milk

        1 cup ground almonds

        1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Generously grease 12 2-inch tart tins.

        2. Roll out pastry. Cut 12 3-inch circles. Reserve pastry scraps. Fit pastry circles into greased tart tins. Spread 1 teaspoon of jam into bottom of each tart shell.

        3. In a small mixing bowl, beat together egg, sugar, and salt until light in color. Mix in milk and almonds. Spoon an equal amount of filling into each tart shell. Cut pastry scraps into small strips and form a cross on top of each tart.

        4. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, until tops are golden brown.

        Reply
        • I'm trying to think where I've heard of these before – after having thought about it over-night I can only think that it sounds a bit like the tarts which are sold under the name "frangipanes" in England, even though strictly frangipane is just the name of the filling. It's a pastry base, a layer of jam and then the almond flavouring! Really good.. never knew they were called Maid of Honour tarts :)

  6. I can honestly say I've never tried this or thought about trying it! But reading your list of ingredients, I'm so intrigued and definitely would love it!! Is is possible to leave out the suet? I remember purchasing it for making bird seed ornaments for my outdoor Xmas trees for the remaining snow birds!!

    Reply
    • Hi Linda – yeah, I saw some recently, made with butter. It will be a bit more "runny" I think. The suet really helps everything stick together beautifully, but the taste will be almost identical I should think. Recipe is here. Not sure if you've ever seen it though, but you can also get vegetarian suet, made with vegetable oils!

      Reply
      • Thanks – I'll check on the vegetarian suet…especially now that I'm interested in those mini pies!!

        Reply
  7. This is something I've never made, but after looking at how great yours looks I might have to change that.

    Reply
    • Thanks Greg – I'd recommend it, it's great! :)

      Reply
  8. I'm looking at these mincepies everywhere in London..I can't get any!!! I promise I'll go back to Qatar and make plenty!!! All this is because

    Reply
    • LOL ^^ So frustrated by Mince Pies!!!

      Reply
  9. I'm looking at these mincepies everywhere in London..I can't get any!!! I promise I'll go back to Qatar and make plenty!!! All this is because I don't know which suet they're using!!! I'm totally frustrated!! You can feel my frustration because the first message got submitted without being finished!

    Reply
    • Yeah – that sucks… I would think it's almost certain they're using "real" suet, unfortunately, instead of vegetarian… poor thing :( When do you return to Qatar?

      Reply
      • Well,,not that I'm in a hurry to return (it's far more exciting to be here in UK) but I'll be returning on 31st…

        Reply
  10. I've always wanted to try to make my own mincemeat. But I've heard horror stories about making this lol. You wouldn't believe how many times someone has made this, brought it to work or something, and they say.. "I'm not sure if you will like that" LOL. But I do love your recipe. Maybe I will try it out

    Reply
    • Haha, that's my "go-to phrase" when I bring mincemeat or mince-pies out… "You're going to hate this, but… would you like to try one?" lol

      Reply
  11. Looks fabulous! I LOVE mincemeat in my curry sauce! Such a perfect addition. I want to make this and try it in place of the store bought jarred stuff sometime. Thanks for posting!

    ~Melissa

    Reply
    • Whaaaaaa? I wasn't expecting to hear that! Mincemeat in curry sauce? That's a new one… Got a good recipe? Something I'd like to try!

      Reply
      • sure do! I'll be posting it very soon. It sounds funny at first, but if you deconstruct the mincemeat "stuff" it's got a lot of the same ingredients as chutney ;)

        Reply
        • Yeah – I guess that's true now I think about it. Looking forward to seeing your recipe!

  12. Can someone please explain why suet, i.e. kidney surrounding fat, is SO important to put into mincemeat recipes?

    I was having a huge conversation with a friend of mine who's vegetarian… and she told me she picked up a pack of ready made mincemeat… the ingredients didn't mention suet… it even said suitable for vegetarians… but when she opened the pack and saw the suet, she was disappointed. Couldn't something a little less weird be put in the recipe.. I don't know, maybe copha?

    Your insight please, Charles!

    Reply
    • Hi Fati – Yeah… if it didn't mention suet and was suitable for vegetarians then it will for sure be vegetarian suet. It looks almost identical in shape, size, colour, texture so if in doubt it's best to always check the ingredients. Vegetarian suet is generally becomming more popular because, as you said, some people are a little queasy about real suet, or cannot eat it for religious/dietary reasons.

      Suet is added to the mincemeat to help bind the mixture together. By coating everything in a fine layer of fat, the fruit not only clumps together well, but also keeps longer.

      Reply
      • aaaahhhh…. makes all the more sense! Thanks for explaining :) I'll tell her about that then :D

        Reply
  13. that is so good.. i love to try out the recipe during the weekend. thanks a lot for sharing.. yeah.. i have no idea why my account was deleted yesterday. so i wrote to them.. now is back to normal.. phew!….

    Reply
    • Thanks Loveforfood! Glad your account is back to normal! :)

      Reply
  14. Mmm…this reminds me of the kind of filling I use for tourtière – delicious! I just love the combination of sweet and savory in this recipe and your ingredients are dynamite Charles.

    Reply
    • Thanks Kelly – I've never heard of tourtière – I'll have to go and look it up in a bit :) Hope you're having a good day and not too much impending Christmas stress!

      Reply
  15. My mom always made Mincemeat pies for the holidays. I love them, but the hubby isn't too crazy about them. So to try to get my mincemeat and have him share the joy, I made a mock mincemeat tamales. I didn't tell him what they were, but he LOVED them! WooHoo! You're mincemeat looks fabulous and I love the jars you've packed them in. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!

    Reply
    • Thanks MJ! You too! I'd love to see what you put in the tamales – they sound really interesting :)

      Reply
  16. Wah…looks delicious. This is inside the pie? Oh I would looooove to try the pies (sorry I came from the pie post first). Also I noticed your wooden juicer. So cute and I want one…

    Reply
    • Hehe, thanks Nami – yeah – it's all dried fruit and yummy stuff. No "meat". It's a trick the English have been playing on unsuspecting foreigners for years! :D

      I really like the juicer thing. Apparently it's called a Citrus Reamer <– You can get them on Amazon in wood for about $6 :)

      Reply
  17. That picture from Wikipedia was really the thing that came into my mind when I read the title 'Mincemeat' ;) – I'd never have thought that mincemeat has got nothing to do with meat at all, thank you for the enlightenment…;)!!

    Reply
    • Hi CG! Hehe, I'd always found the name odd myself, so you don't need to be worried. Thankfully though, indeed it's not meat. It wouldn't make for such a tasty dessert I think :D

      Reply

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