Monday, November 25, 2013

This year's mincemeat - getting ready for Christmas

Just a quick post to remind any ambitious parties who are planning to embark upon making their own Christmas puddings, mincemeat or Christmas cake, stir-up-Sunday was just this weekend and it is perfect timing to get stuck-in and make your house smell like Christmas.

I wonder how much mincemeat I’ll be making this time next year? I’m so excited about getting started with the business I can barely concentrate on all the (still many, many) tasks at hand in order to start... This year I made a modest amount just for gifts, samples, and I’m reserving a special 400g of it to take back to my family in the UK in a couple of weeks time, to bake mince pies “for Father Christmas” with my niece and nephews.

I made this particular mincemeat with butter instead of the traditional suet, as suet suitable for baking is hard to come by in Japan and I wanted to see if I minded the non-traditional version. I’m pleased to report that I don’t mind at all! It is really lovely. Of course it also means that my vegetarian friends can enjoy the mincepies too.

Here is the recipe I used, adapted from Delia Smith and Mary Berry's recipes.

  • 225g Bramley apples cored and chopped
  • 175g raisins
  • 110g sultanas
  • 110g currants
  • 25 chopped almonds
  • 110g butter
  • zest and juice 1 lemon
  • zest and juice 1 orange
  • 175g brown sugar
  • 60g dried apricots, chopped
  • 50g candied lemon peel
  • 60g candied orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons of brandy (or preferred amount to taste)

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pan and heat gently to melt the butter and sugar. Continue to heat through very gently for 10 minutes, stiring occasionally and leave to cool.
  2. Once cool, add your preferred amount of brandy and decant into sterilised jars. 
  3. Store the mincemeat in a cool dark place while the flavours develop further until you need it at Christmas.
Note that if you are using glass jars with metal lids, it's best to put a piece of plastic wrap between the lid and the jar to avoid any reaction between the lid and the acidic contents of the jar. 

The best thing about making your own mincemeat is that you can adapt the mix of dried fruit to your own tastes – just keep the total weight of dried fruit roughly the same as your recipe. Many recent recipes add cranberries, I like to add dried apricots, as I think they go fantastically with the almonds and brandy.

If you've also made your own British mixed spice and customised your blend of spices to your preference, then you’ll have a totally unique mincemeat of your own!

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