Mincemeat is a wonderful traditional Christmassy confection and one that if you knew how easy it was to make from scratch, you’d never buy it ready-made again. It’s stuffed with lots of dried fruits, candied citrus peel, nuts and brandy (or rum).
Not only that but unless you have access to big city supermarkets in the US, you can only find it in the ‘seasonal’ section from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve – and frankly, many brands of the gluey brown stuff that pose as mincemeat are disappointing with their list of chemical ingredients – and worst of all they contain nowhere nearly enough rum or brandy, if any.
On the other hand, if you can find really good quality ready-made mincemeat, it’s expensive so why not make your own?
There’s no cooking involved until you’re ready to pile it into a tart, a pie, or stuff it into an apple for baking.
Here is a gloriously boozy and festive mincemeat recipe that will make enough to fill three 8-9 ounce (227-255g) glass jars. Be sure to squish it down really well in the jar once you get to that point.
It takes a couple of weeks to mature by which time it will have developed a deep, rich color and the smell will have you drooling, so get cracking and you’re guaranteed to receive lots of ‘oohs and aahs’ over the holiday season.
I use Atora vegetable suet*. You can buy it here or from Amazon. Vegetable-based suet fat is every bit as good in cooking as the original meat-based suet, so there’s no need to lie about the contents of your desserts and to be honest, nothing else will do here, so you can forget about using lard or butter.
I buy suet in bulk and keep it in my freezer and if you’ve never used it before, you should know that it makes the lightest, fluffiest dumplings, pastries and sponge puddings…a Great British tradition!
TRADITIONAL MINCEMEAT WITH BRANDY
4 oz (114g) of currants
4 oz (114g) of seedless raisins
4 oz (114g) of sultanas / golden raisins
2 oz (57g) dried tart cherries
2 oz (57g) of candied citrus peel (make your own here)
4 oz (114g) of firm, tart apple, peeled and cored
2 oz (57g) of blanched almonds (or walnuts if you prefer)
4 oz (114g) of shredded *suet
8 oz (228g) of soft dark brown sugar
1 level teaspoon of ground allspice
Brandy or rum – enough to moisten the mixture (don’t worry about overdoing it as the alcohol evaporates during cooking and acts as a preservative up to that point)
Stir everything together well, cover with cling film and let it rest at room temperature for 2 days, after which time is will smell even more heavenly.
Spoon it into sterile, screw-top glass jars, packing down well and let it mature for a minimum of 2 weeks before you use it.
Once opened, store it in the fridge and use within a month. It may also freeze but I haven’t tried that yet. If you do, don’t stuff the jars to the brim.
If you make it now, you’ll be rocking out the most delicious little Yuletide mince pies!