Well, if you belive the shops, adverts and media Christmas is upon us (it’s not even December!) and, as much as I dislike being harried into preparing early, some things do require a little forethought. This recipe for mincemeat needs two weeks to mature and let the fruit soak up all the brandy. If you make it now it will be perfect by Christmas.
As far as I can remember my mum has always made her own mincemeat from the same recipe. I’ve grown up with the recipe and, to me, it is the quintessential taste of Christmas; no shop-bought brand can match its flavour and richness. The recipe in question is from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, a stalwart of British cooking that has been in kitchens since 1861. The secret lies in using the whole lemon – once zested and juiced the leftover rinds are boiled until tender, minced and added to the mix resulting in a delicious zesty tang. The only small adaptation mum makes is to reduce the sugar which allows the flavour of the fruit to shine.
(adapted from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management)
The full recipe filled 3 Bonne Maman jars, a 500ml kilner jar and a 1 litre jam jar – far more than I need even with making mince pies for work/friends/family. Fortunately, in an attractive jar, it makes a nice gift!
- 3 unwaxed lemons
- 3 large apples (I used Bramley apples but any cooking apple will do)
- 450g raisins
- 450g currants
- 450g suet (vegetarian suet can be substituted)
- 400g dark muscavado sugar
- 75g mixed peel (citron, lemon and orange)
- 125ml brandy
- 2 tbsp orange marmalade
Zest the lemons, squeeze out the juice and set aside for later.
Boil the lemon rinds until soft, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, peel, core and slice the apples and cook with a little water until soft and pulpy. Bramley apples work well here as they break down easily when cooked.
In a large bowl mix the lemon juice, zest and apple. Chop the boiled rind finely and stir in. Add the remaining ingredients one by one, stirring after each addition.
Spoon into sterilised jars and leave to mature for at least 2 weeks.
There are so many things you can do with mincemeat besides the obvious pie, try as a filling for baked apples, baked in the middle of almond muffins or in one of my favourite recipes Barney Desmazery’s roly-poly pies.