Mincemeat does not contain meat. Well, it did, back in ye olde days. Now it doesn’t, although some recipes do contain beef suet. But, no, modern mincemeat does not contain meat. (So should it just be called “mince?”)
Mincemeat has everything I would consider Christmasy – it’s fruity, spicy, and boozy. Fortunately, it’s extremely simple to make because it’s one of those boil-everything-in-a-pot kind of recipe.
You can just as easily buy good mincemeat ready-made in a jar. Just bear in mind not all jarred mincemeat are made equal. Some contain rather questionable ingredients, such as this one below which contains palm oil:
If that alone isn’t enough to convince you to take the DIY route, then consider how easily you can customise your own mincemeat. If you love an ingredient, just add more of it; if you hate something, just take it out!
I make mine non-alcoholic, not because I don’t drink, but because buying a whole bottle of brandy just for a couple of tablespoons seems like a huge extravagance. (Alcohol is super expensive where I live.) However, if you do have brandy, feel free to replace 2 tbsp of the water and the brandy essence with 2 tbsp of the booze, and stir it in only at the very end.
1 Granny Smith apple
400g of your favourite dried fruit (I used half cranberries, half raisins)
200g brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
4 tbsp water
1 tsp brandy essence
100g candied citrus peel (opt.)
Step 1: Cut the apple into a fine dice, including the peel. Zest and juice the lemon.
Step 2: Dump all the ingredients, except the brandy essence and candied peel, into a pot and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. There should be just enough liquid so that you can see it bubbling around the fruit. If the mixture gets too dry, just add more water.
Step 3: The mincemeat is ready once the liquid has reduced and becomes thick and syrupy, the apple bits have softened, and the dried fruit have slightly plumped up. Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the brandy essence and candied peel.
If you like a finer texture, toss your mincemeat into a food processor while still warm and blend away. I like mine chunky so I just left it as it is. Cool the mincemeat to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator. Leave overnight to let the flavours mingle before using.
And that’s it! Now what do you do with mincemeat? It’s actually delicious eaten on its own. Or toss it in the microwave for a minute and serve warm over vanilla ice cream.
However, a more conventional approach is to make Christmas mince pies, but that’s for another post!