A few years ago I discovered that making mincemeat is really easy. Easier than Christmas pudding which I have never thought of buying. Of course it is possible, if not probable, that making mincemeat costs more than buying a jar, especially as you have to buy more of the ingredients than you need. But hopefully you can use the rest up in some other way.
This made me really happy, especially as I am more and more concerned about what might be in the food I eat. For instance, I always make sure these days that the ingredients in a jar of jam are just fruit and sugar, the ingredients list in some jars of jam, especially the cheaper sort, read like a laboratory list.
I probably had a few recipes for mincemeat in among my many cookbooks but I decided to go for a “Delia” recipe which I found on-line.
Now if I make full quantities it is more than enough for the dozen or so large mince pies I make to offer my son when he comes round, so this year I decided to make half quantities.
I have made too many mistakes when halving a recipe in my head, so I carefuly sat down and wrote out what half quantites were, double and triple checking as I went!
I had bought a Bramley cooking apple and the suet.I always have raisins and sultanas in the cupboard but currants are always a bit more problematical as the only thing I need currants for is pikelets and I rarely make them these days. I almost bought 500gm (smallest available) but then I had an idea. My two most popular fruit cake recipes use mixed fruit and mixed fruit contains currants, so I bought a bag of mixed fruit and sat down and sorted the fruit into currants, peel and raisins & sultanas. I didn’t bother to sort between raisins and sultanas as they are so similar.
Then I weighed each sort and wrote it down.I halved the sultanas/raisins pile and made them up to the required quantity, added all the currants, as you hadly need to be exact, and topped up the peel with other that I had bought.
I got out the orange, lemon and packet of brown sugar. I normally have brown sugar too but I had run out recently.Weighed out some almonds and cut them into slivers. This is half-way.
Measured out the spices. I have been extra generous with the cinnamon and nutmeg.
Having peeled the apple and chopped it into very small pieces, weighed out the suet and sugar and removed the zest and juice from half the orange and lemon, I added them to all the other ingredients and mixed well. The recipe says to leave this for twelve hours before adding the brandy so that is what I did.
Delia Smith says to put it in the oven at 120 deg C for 3 hours and that is what I did the first time but last year when I did that, I went and forgot about it and when I remembered it was frankly a bit on the burnt side, so I had to throw it away and start again. So for the second attempt last year and then this year, I decided to leave out that step, as in commercial jars you can normally see the suet so they can’t do it.
I did however add 3 dessertspoons of brandy and give it a good mix then put into a kilner jar in the fridge. Ready for when I get round to making some mince pies that I will freeze. They can then be cooked as and when they are needed.
I find 1lb flour and 8oz fat makes enough pastry for about a dozen large mince pies made in a muffin tin.