Make mincemeat of Christmas!

6th November 2017 Blogs

When it comes to Yuletide treats, nothing quite says Christmas like mince pies. You can buy some pretty good mincemeat in the shops, but home-made really is in a different league.

Mincemeat is ridiculously easy to make and once you have made it yourself, there really is no going back to the shop bought variety. Why don’t you try making your own with our deliciousrecipe below, but remember that you should be making it well in advance of Christmas to give the flavours maximum time to mature. Delicious in a range of recipes, a jar of mincemeat also makes a lovely Christmas gift.

The history of mincemeat
Mincemeat is a mixture of chopped dried fruit, distilled spirits and spices, and beef suet or butter. Originally, mincemeat always contained meat such as beef or venison, hence the name. However, many modern recipes do still contain beef suet, though vegetable shortening or butter is commonly used in its place. English recipes from the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries describe a mixture of meat and fruit used as a pie filling and these very early recipes included vinegars and wines, but by the 18th century, distilled spirits and most frequently brandy, were being used instead. The use of spices such as clove, nutmeg, mace and cinnamon was common in late medieval times, but it was the introduction of sweetness from added sugars and those produced from fermentation, which meant that mincemeat become less of a savoury dinner course and more of a dessert.

In the mid to late eighteenth century, mincemeat in Europe had become associated with old -fashioned, rural and traditional homely foods. But it was the Victorian’s in England who rejuvenated the ingredient as a traditional Yuletide treat, many recipes continuing to include suet, venison, minced beef sirloin or even minced heart, along with dried fruit, spices, chopped apple, and fresh citrus peel, currants, candied fruits and brandy or rum. There are many different recipes, with variations by region and country too.

Mincemeat is mainly consumed during the festive season when mince pies or mincemeat tarts are served but our American cousins also enjoy mincemeat pies as a traditional part of their Thanksgiving holiday, often served with a piece of Cheddar cheese.

But as we said above, mincemeat is best if it is aged to deepen and mature the flavours, this activates the preserving effect of the alcohol, in fact preserved mincemeat can be stored for years, but our own supply never tends to last beyond the festive season each year! Maybe just an unexpected treat come January or February.

TOP TIP – Of course, mincemeat takes centre stage in mince pies and mincemeat tarts but why not try it in pies, pastries and tarts with apples and pears. You can also stir a little mincemeat into your fruit for extra special crumbles and bakes.

Get ready for Christmas and try our own mincemeat recipe from Seasons.

We use Bea’s old family recipe from Mrs Beatons Everyday Cookery Book – which was given to us by Bea’s parents on our wedding day!!

 

Christmas Mincemeat

1 lb cooking Apples peeled and finely chopped
2 ½ lbs sultanas, raisins and currants
2 oz of mixed peel
2 oz chopped almonds
1lb shredded suet
2 lemons rind and juice
¼ pt of Brandy
3 table spoons of rum
½ teaspoon of –  nutmeg finely grated, ground ginger, mace, ground cloves,
Pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together stirring well and cover closely in clean dry jars.
Keep of 2 to 3 weeks to allow the flavours to mellow before using.