Mincemeat and mincemeat

I have in my cupboard a jar of mincemeat, which may be last year’s or may be the year before… thinking about it, it might even be the year before that! It is just one single jar, and since I am so fond of mince pies I might have to make some more… and I have been looking at my old cookery book, the recipes probably dating from the 1920’s if not before, and I have come across two separate lists of ingredients…

Mincemeat I

  • ½ lb cooking apples, peeled, cored, chopped
  • ½ beef suet (you can use vegetarian suet or butter)
  • zest and juice ¼ lemon (how is that going to make its presence felt? I’d use at least ½ a lemon, or a whole one)
  • ½ sugar
  • 2 oz flaked or nibbed almonds
  • 3 oz candied orange peel
  • 2 oz candied citron (lemon) peel
  • ½ lb each of  raisins, currants, sultanas
  • grated nutmeg
  • ratafia essence
  • rum

Mincemeat II

  • ¾ stoned, chopped dates
  • 1 lb chopped figs (stalks cut off)
  • ½ candied peel
  • 1½ lbs currants
  • 1 lb peeled and cored apples
  • 1 lb beef suet (you can use vegetarian suet or butter)
  • ½ lb sugar
  • ¼ lb Brazil nuts, chopped
  • ½ tsp ground ginger (I would add much more!!)
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 bottle of ratafia flavouring
  • 1/3 gill of rum  (I can’t work out how much this is in fluid ounces… maybe 2? Be generous!)

The instructions are the same for both recipes – mix all the ingredients very well together, pack into jars, make airtight… it doesn’t give any instruction as to how long to leave the mincemeat, at least a week I would guess, or as long as possible!


‘Tis the season to make… Mince Meat

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and if you haven’t done, then ’tis the season to make…

Mince Meat (no meat!!)

  • 10 oz raisins
  • 1 lb currants
  • 3-4 fl oz orange juice or cold tea – or add a little rum/whisky/brandy etc
  • zest of 1 lemon, juice of ½ (if you’ve no lemons use an orange)
  • 12 oz  shredded suet – vegetarian or not, or butter (which gives a very rich flavour)
  • 10 oz dark brown sugar
  • 3 oz chopped mixed peel (optional – miss it out if you don’t like it and extra other fruit)
  • plenty of mixed spice (or mixed spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, allspice, or go crazy and have cardamom, cumin, coriander!!)
  • 1 large cooking apple, peeled and grated
  1. soak the dried fruit in the liquid for at least an hour until they are nice and plump (you can actually use any dried fruit you like,  for example chopped prunes, apricots etc – but currants really do give a very fine flavour)
  2. drain the fruit but keep the liquor
  3. mix the fruit, sugar, spice and suet together, stir very well
  4. pour in the liquor and stir really well
  5. put into clean jars and push right down to the bottom so there are no air bubbles
  6. cover the jars and leave in a cool dark place for at least two weeks
  7. make mince pies!!!
  8. This will keep in the fridge for up to 6 months. (actually much longer, especially if you seal the top with melted butter; if it’s dried out, revive it worth some more liquid, juice/tea/spirits)

Delia Smith does this to her mincemeat – it works well and I think gives a better texture and adds to the longevity:

After that (the overnight soak)  pre-heat the oven to gas mark ¼, 225°F (110°C). Cover the bowl loosely with foil and place it in the oven for 3 hours, then remove the bowl from the oven. Don’t worry about the appearance of the mincemeat, which will look positively swimming in fat. This is how it should look.

When it’s been in the oven, bottle up and seal in the usual way.