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Hmmm, once you have tasted homemade mincemeat in mince pies, shop bought mince meat will just never quite have the right feel again.
1ib cooking apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
8oz vegtable suet
8oz mixed chopped peel
12oz soft brown/muscavado sugar
The grated rind and juice of 2 oranges
The grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
2 oz of sliced almonds
4 teaspoons of mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
half a nutmeg… grated
6 tablespoons of brandy
Mix all the ingredients, except for the brandy, together in a large bowl very thoroughly. Then cover with a cloth and leave for 12 hours.
After 12 hours to prevent fermentation during storage place all the ingredients in a large baking tray, gas mark 1/4 or around 100-120 degrees centigrade for 3 hours. (use your judgement if the oven seems too hot then use a lower temperature,) the process will melt the suet and the sugar together and coat the ingredients which can be stirred during the 3 hour period, this preserves the mixture.
Next allow the mixture to get cold and thoroughly stir in the brandy then spoon into clean dry storage jars, I prefer the jars with a rubber seal where the lid is held down by metal clips (Kilner jars)
Enjoy this over christmas with wholemeal pastry or puff pastry.
Mince pies were originally much larger and often an oval shape to symbolise the sleeping baby Jesus, and the pastry casing represented the swaddling clothes. This is similar to the supposed origins of Stollen Cake.
King Henry V was served a mincemeat pie at his coronation in 1413.
Over time the amount of meat in mincemeat was gradually reduced until it became the fruit only substance we know today. In addition, the pies became smaller. Apparently they were sometimes called “wayfarers’ pies” because they were given to visitors over the Christmas period.
Originally (unlike my recipe) mincemeat would contain meat – mincemeat was a way of preserving meat by mixing it with fruit, spices and alcohol – and later beef suet, as a derivative from this earlier time when mincemeat actually contained meat, all fruit mincemeat is of course a relatively modern invention. (please note my recipe is suitable for vegetarians and contains vegetable suet)
A recipe from the middle of the 17th century lists ingredients of…. shredded mutton and veal, beef suet, butter, wheat flour, raisins, dates, and lemon, the spices being…mace, cloves, nutmeg, rosewater and white wine vinegar.
Now theres always room for a blog detailing old english recipes!