It’s that festive season again when mince pies are all around us. They are consumed by the gallon at work and at home and they can be bought relatively cheaply from your local supermarket. However, even though it costs a little more than buying pre-packaged mince pies, I always like to make mine. It just makes Christmas that extra bit festive for me and also it’s nice that people get something to eat that I’ve put a little effort into.
I’m not going to talk pastry in this post because there are so many recipes out there as well as frozen or chilled pre-made that you can buy, but what I am going to talk about is the key ingredient – mincemeat. This is something that you can make really easily. I see so many ready-made jars and the mincemeat in it just looks really paste-like and not really that appetising and I also think it’s pretty expensive, so if you have a little time to spare why not make your own. The recipe is so simple and there are no complicated steps so you can even get children involved.
Mincemeat contains a number of ingredients but the key ones that you need to consider are dried fruit, dark brown sugar, suet (vegetable or beef) and spices. You can use my recipe as a guide and substitute any dried fruits you dislike and you can also add nuts and alcohol. My recipe makes over 2kg of mincemeat. It can be stored for 2 years but if you don’t want to store it or don’t need that amount, just scale the recipe down.
This recipe can be made without much waiting but to get a better flavour you will need to steep the dried fruit in the juice and spices overnight before baking in the oven so beware, this mincemeat can take a couple of days to make if you want to really enhance the flavour of it.
- 450g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and diced
- 200g shredded suet – Atora is a main brand you can buy and the green box is vegetable suet and therefore suitable for vegetarians
- 225g dried cranberries
- 500g sultanas
- 500g mixed fruit – a pre-packed bag will contain a mix of sultanas, raisins and candied mixed peel
- The juice of 2 lemons – zest can also be added if desired
- The juice of 2 oranges – zest can also be added if desired
- 350g dark brown sugar
- 4 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg (fresh or powder)
Additional elements if desired – 50g nuts, alcohol (brandy) to taste (as the mix cools).
- Combine all the ingredients in a large (if you are making the full recipe it will definitely need to be large) bowl. Cover with a tea towel, cloth or cling film and steep the fruit overnight.
- If you’re not steeping it, pop it into the middle of a preheated oven (still in the bowl it was sitting in if it was a glass or ceramic one) at 110°C for approximately 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Once out of the oven let the mincemeat cool down, again, stirring occasionally. You will see the mincemeat start to thicken over time as the suet sets.
- Once cooled this can then be stored away or used as a filling for mince pies or tarts.
If you’ve never made your own mincemeat before I highly recommend it. It gives you much better control of what is in it and it is easily customisable and can cater to vegetarians and people that wish to avoid alcohol and nuts. It’s so easy to make too, and the most effort you’ll put into it is mixing and waiting. Why not make some this season – or really, any season, because who said mince pies had to be a Christmas only thing?