Christmas in Britain just cannot be without mince pies, absolutely no way. The small, sweet pies are filled with delicious homemade mincemeat are as traditional as the day itself even though they are eaten from early November onwards - with some starting even earlier.
Mincemeat is remarkably easy to make plus home-made mincemeat is such a treat and so much better than shop-bought jars so really 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 quick cook.
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, meat though once it was. Look through the Christmas mincemeat recipe you will see it is sugar, fruits both fresh and dried, Brandy and suet blended.
- 6oz/175g dried raisins
- 4 oz /110g dried currants
- 4 oz /110g candied, mixed peel, finely chopped
- 6oz/175g shredded suet (beef or vegetarian)
- ½ lb /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 flavors to melt together.
- Next day, heat the oven to 230 F/110 C/¼ gas.
- Remove the tea towel and cover the bowl with foil and place in the warmed oven for 2½ hours. At the end of this time, the suet will have melted but don't worry, this is how it should be. The fat is what will help to preserve the mincemeat as well as giving lots of flavors. 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 sterilized jars (see below) with the cold mincemeat, cover 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.
- The mincemeat is lovely in mince tarts or this Christmas Mincemeat Bakewell Tart.
- Each 1 pound (500g) jar of mincemeat will make approximately 12 regular sized mince pies.
- Makes 3 (1 pound (500g)) jars of mincemeat.