Living in Alsace, I have never found anywhere to buy christmas mincemeat for my all time favourite christmas goodie – the mincemeat pie. I do, however, have a very easy recipe for this delight!
For those who don’t know, mincemeat is a sticky chunky fruity nutty filling – no meat anywhere in sight! It’s a very old British speciality and in the 17th century meat was indeed mixed with fruit and used in pie making. Today some recipes use beef suet, however I prefer it without and anyway I can’t easily find any in France.
Mincemeat is often made in November so that it has plenty of time to marinate before being spooned into pastry cases around christmas time. I love this recipe as it can be prepared just a few days before being used, it really doesn’t need to sit. Great for me who has difficulty thinking ahead! A mincemeat pie is like a small tart – 2 or 3 bites and it’s gone – Yummmm. Almost everyone in this house loves mincemeat pies and we often start to eat them from the beginning of December. Of course they are “different” from French christmas goodies so I am always giving them away – work friends, school parties, coffee mornings …
Usually the fruit is soaked in alcohol (brandy, rum, sherry) but I don’t like the taste of alcohol (haven’t found anything I like yet!) so I soak my fruit in cold fruit tea and orange juice. If alcohol is used then the flavour is more pronounced if you can leave it for a few weeks before using. Once made, mincemeat can be stored in jars for 3 or 4 months and although it’s associated with Christmas, it’s a real treat to find a jar at the back of the cupboard in April!
So mid November I gathered all the ingredients – there are quite a few – and I had 7 jars of varying sizes filled with mincemeat waiting, waiting, waiting for December.
Mincemeat (without suet) – makes just under 2 kg. This is enough for about 120 pies! Sounds a lot but sometimes I find myself making a second batch mid December and using it straight out of the bowl. If you think it’s too much, just half or quarter the ingredients.
175 g currents, 225 g sultanas, 225 g raisins
125 g roughly chopped dried apricots, 125g finely chopped glacé cherries,
125 g roughly chopped mixed peel
50 g flaked almonds
225 g soft light brown sugar
125 g butter (melted)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp 4 spice
grated zest and juice or 2 oranges
150 ml brandy or rum or cold tea – can also use fruit tea if preferred
150 ml sherry or orange juice
- Place everything in a big bowl, adding the liquids last, stir well making sure all the fruit and liquid is well mixed.
- Cover and leave in a dry place for a day stirring from time to time – if the mixture seems dry add more liquid.
- When the fruit has softened, spoon into clean jam jars, leaving a little space at the top.
- Seal and label
- Use for mince pies or wrap and give away!