This home-made Christmas mincemeat is so simple to make and tastes so much nicer than shop bought, which I have found sometimes has a bitter tang.
I always use this recipe from Delia Smith’s Christmas book, and it is the tastiest and easiest one I have found. In this recipe the mincemeat is placed in a barely warm oven and so the suet gradually melts and as this happens it coats all the fruits, including the apples, sealing in the juices. Vegetarians can make this mincemeat happily, using vegetarian suet.
I usually make double the quantity and then give them as gifts to my friends!
8oz (225g) Bramley apples, cored and chopped small (no need to peel them)
4 oz (110 g) shredded suet
6oz (175 g) raisins
4oz (110 g) sultanas
4oz (110 g) currants
4oz (110 g) whole mixed candied peel,finely chopped
6oz (175 g) soft dark brown sugar
grated zest and juice 1 orange
grated zest and juice 1 lemon
1 oz (25 g) whole almonds, cut into slivers
2 level teaspoons mixed ground spice
¼ level teaspoon ground cinnamon
good pinch freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons brandy
You will also need 3 x 1lb (350ml) preserving jars and 3 waxed discs.
All you do is combine all the ingredients, except for the brandy, in a large mixing bowl, stirring them and mixing them together very thoroughly indeed. Then cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave the mixture in a cool place overnight or for 12 hours, so the flavours have a chance to mingle and develop. After that pre-heat the oven to gas mark ¼, 225°F (120°C). Cover the bowl loosely with foil and place it in the oven for 3 hours, then remove the bowl from the oven. Don’t worry about the appearance of the mincemeat, which will look positively swimming in fat. This is how it should look. As it cools, stir it from time to time; the fat will coagulate and, instead of it being in tiny shreds, it will encase all the other ingredients.
When the mincemeat is quite cold, stir well again, adding the brandy. Pack in jars that have been sterilised (see below). When filled, cover with waxed discs and seal. The mincemeat will keep for ages in a cool, dark cupboard but I think it is best eaten within a year of making.
NOTE: To sterilise jars, wash the jars and lids in warm soapy water, rinse well, then dry thoroughly with a clean tea cloth, place them on a baking tray and pop into a medium oven, gas mark 4, 350F, 180C, for 5 minutes.
TIP: You can used dried cranberries in this recipe as well as the dried fruit listed … just substitute equal quantities with the cranberries if you like this idea.