For anyone not familiar with mincemeat, let me explain. It has nothing to do with minced or ground beef, it´s made with fruit. Well…initially it was made of meat, flavoured with sugar, fruit and spices. This, historically, was probably to mask the strong flavours of meat which needed to be preserved without the benefit of refrigeration.
Over time the mixture became sweeter and all that now remains of its meaty ancestor, is an ingredient called suet, which is usually beef or mutton fat. This melts down into the mix to preserve it. Vegetarian suet it now also available.
When I spent my first Christmas in Spain 6 years ago, it was impossible for me to track down ready made mincemeat for my Christmas Mince Pies, let alone suet to make my own. Things have changed now over the years, but I still use a recipe I came across (and I don´t know where, so apologies to whoever it “belongs” to) which is a suet free version of mincemeat.
The flavours develop and improve over time, although it´s excellent even freshly made. If you make a large batch, it will be wonderful next Christmas!
- 250g brown sugar
- 250ml cider (sweet or dry) or apple juice
- 1kg of peeled and chopped cooking apples
- ½ teaspoon ground mixed spice
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 250g each of currants, raisins, cranberries
- 75g glace cherries
- 75g blanched almonds
- Rind & juice of ½ lemon plus rind of 1 orange
- 6 tablespoons of brandy or rum (optional)
(Feel free to vary the ingredients according to your taste)
Dissolve the sugar in the cider over a gentle heat, add all the other ingredients except the alcohol and cook until soft and pulpy. Cool slightly, stir in alcohol and put into sterilised jars.