Last year I wanted to make mince pies with homemade mincemeat but hadn’t realised you are supposed to make it in advance so that the flavour can develop. So this year I am prepared. Mince pies, if you are not British, are only found at Christmas time and are sweet despite their name. Warm mince pies on a cold day really get you into the Christmas spirit.
These days it is easy to get good mincemeat in jars but if you want the full experience you can make it yourself. I think a jar of homemade mincemeat for baking friends, or a batch of mince pies make good gifts. I made double the recipe below which made a reasonable quantity and there really are only so many you can eat!
I used Delia Smith’s mincemeat recipe but added a small tub of chopped cherries. Traditionally they would contain beef suet but these days more often contain vegetable suet. It’s a very simple method but has several stages.
225g Bramley apples, cored, peeled and chopped very small
110g shredded vegetable suet
110g mixed candied peel
175g soft dark brown sugar
grated zest and juice 1 orange
grated zest and juice 1 lemon
25g whole almonds, chopped
2 teaspoons mixed spice
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
3 tablespoons brandy
Combine all the ingredients except the brandy in a large bowl, cover and leave overnight.
Set the oven to 120ºC. Cover the bowl loosely with foil and put it in the oven for 3 hours.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely, stirring occasionally.
When completely cool, add the brandy, mix well and transfer to sterilised jars. Pack it down well and cover with a waxed disc before sealing. This recipe should make three 1lb/350ml jars.
Delia says it should be eaten within a year.
I think it is still far too early for the first mince pie so am storing my mincemeat until December. Not too long though, can’t wait!