Christmas in Britain cannot be without mince pies, no way, and when the small, sweet pies are filled with delicious homemade Christmas mincemeat, they are even better. They are as traditional as the day itself, even though they are eaten from early November onwards – with some starting even earlier.
The mincemeat is remarkably easy to make and is such a treat and so much better than shop-bought jars, so it is worth doing. It may look fiddly with so many ingredients, but it is not. Quite the opposite, as the method is so simple; it is a case of mixing and a little cooking.
Make your mincemeat ahead of time to give it time to mature, but don’t worry if you are last-minute; it still tastes good. How can all those delicious ingredients not be?
Note – Christmas mincemeat is not, as the name suggests, made with meat though it once was. Look through the Christmas mincemeat recipe. You will see sugar, fresh and dried fruits, Brandy and suet blended.
- 175g dried raisins
- 110g dried currants
- 110g candied, mixed peel, finely chopped
- 175g shredded suet (beef or vegetarian)
- 225g soft, dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons mixed spice
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
- 1 Bramley or cooking apple, cored and finely chopped; no need to peel
- 4 tablespoons brandy
- In a large roomy baking bowl, combine all the ingredients except the brandy. Stir well, making sure they are all evenly distributed. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave overnight for the flavours to melt together.
- Next day, heat the oven to 110ºC.
- Remove the tea towel, cover the bowl with foil, and place in the warmed oven for 2½ hours. The suet will have melted at the end of this time, but don’t worry; this is how it should be. The fat is what will help to preserve the mincemeat as well as give lots of flavour. Stir the mincemeat mixture well and leave to one side to cool, stirring from time to time. The stirring is essential as it helps to distribute the fruits evenly as the mixture cools.
- Once cooled, stir the mincemeat again, add the brandy and stir one more time.
- Fill previously sterilised jars with the cold mincemeat, and cover them with a wax disc and a lid. The mincemeat will keep up to one year in a cool, dark place though I doubt you will want to keep it that long.