You can buy so many versions of mincemeat in jars and most of them are quite good. But once you’ve made your own, you will make it again and again, and then you’ll start giving it to friends as a pre-Christmas present. When you make mince pies with this, people will ask – “are they homemade?” and then they will ask “and did you make the mincemeat too?” if they know what they are tasting. As with all home-made ingredients, one of the best things is to cater exactly to your own tastes. I like the subtle crunch of nuts in mincemeat, so I have more in my recipe than some others, and I also like the fruity appley taste. Too much fresh fruit means it doesn’t keep so well, but I prefer to use my fresh mincemeat up every year and not give it space in the pantry till next Christmas, so I don’t mind if my mincemeat doesn’t keep more than six months.
This is loosely based on Delia Smith’s Christmas recipe. I look forward to taking her book from the shelf every year and delving into it. Her tip is that melting the suet through the fruit adds to the keeping quality and is better than just adding it dry to the mixture as you will find in bought jars and some recipes. The melted fat looks quite a lot when you take the dish out of the oven but it coats all the fruit and disappears as the mixture cools. I always use the vegetarian suet you can get at the supermarket.
Make your own, try variations of ingredients and flavours, and you’ll end up with something unique to you. You might prefer whisky instead of brandy? You might like more orange flavour or want to add some spoonfuls of marmalade – give it a go! Leave out the peel if you don’t like it and use dried cranberries. Really go wild and add some preserved pineapple and slosh in some rum.
Makes about 2kg, 4 medium jars Timings: 1 hour on the first day, overnight soaking then 3 hours slow cook
Chop the apples into small dice and add to a large bowl with all the other ingredients except the brandy. Stir well and leave covered in a cool place overnight for the flavours to mingle and the fruits to absorb the juices.
Next day, pre-heat the oven to 120°C and cook the bowl - covered with foil – for about 3 hours until all the suet is melted. Bring it out and let it cool in the kitchen, while you stir it from time to time to keep the fat mixed in. Add the brandy when the mixture is cold.
Store in clean jars, tightly sealed. It does keep for a year or more depending on the mixture, but you can surely use it up over this Christmas? Make an extra batch of mince pies and take them round to an elderly neighbour?
Some Changes - April 2022
Thanks to my friends and followers for your patience, and for your encouragement to start blogging again.