Mincemeat – A Traditional British Midwinter Treat

Mincemeat is a traditional preserve made annually in England for the obligatory mince pies served around Christmas time. If you’re not familiar with mince pies (sweet pastry pies made with ‘mincemeat’), they are a fairly intense, warming, dessert, generally served with custard, cream, ice-cream, or brandy butter (or vegan equivalents, for those of us who need to)! I make my mincemeat in the autumn, so that I have it ready as an easy pie filling when the urge for mince pies strikes. This recipe is naturally gluten free vegan, and I include it here for my sister in law, Sarah. It was adapted from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course years and years ago, so it has been well tested.

If you’ve not made preserves before, just know that ‘sterilize the jars’ just means boil 1/2″ water in them for a couple of minutes in the microwave just before draining and filling with mincemeat. Use oven mitts as the jars (and mincemeat) should still be too hot to handle when they meet each other and are covered to prevent fermentation/bug growth.

Home made mincemeat (~9 months old, stored in the larder and ready to use).

1 lb chunky apple sauce (homemade or jarred)
8 oz non-hydrogenated vegan margarine
36 oz (2lb 4 oz) dried fruit (we like mixed raisins (~1lb), chopped dried cherries, dried cranberries)
12 oz soft dark brown sugar
2 lemons, juice and zest
2 oranges, juice and zest
2 oz slivered almonds
4 tsps mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup brandy

Mix everything except for the brandy in a large bowl.

To prevent fermentation, heat in the microwave (or in the oven) until boiling (stir intermittently to distribute heat).

Allow to cool slightly. Stir in the brandy.

Pour into sterilized jam jars, cover with parchment paper then jar lid, and allow to cool undisturbed.

I’ve kept this with no problem for a year in the larder, though I do tend to revive it with a little more brandy, if it has dried out at all.

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