Sunday 19 December 2010

Christmas Mincemeat

Mincemeat is a bit like Marmite.

People tend to either love it or hate it. I am firmly in the love it category.

I do truly believe, however, that a significant portion of the haters would feel differently if they tasted homemade mincemeat. When I was interning at delicious., I helped out with the Christmas food taste test. Among other things (cakes, stollen, panettone, puddings) we tested mincemeat and mince pies from a wide range of brands and price points. Even the ones that won weren't a patch on homemade.

So if you make one thing from my blog this Christmas, please make it mincemeat. Take a look at the ingredients above. Is there anything you dislike? There's no suet, no soggy candied peel.

Making mincemeat is a family tradition. Mum and I have made it together for years. It's a very simple recipe - the only thing is stirring it every now and then. We love stirring because it's an excuse to take a peek, sample some and let the gorgeous aroma out.

Nothing smells more like Christmas to me.

Our recipe is adapted from Delia's. You cook the mincemeat on low for a few hours in the oven, which lets the butter and spices thickly coat all the apple pieces and fruits and seals all their juices in. We don't use suet or candied peel because we don't really like them, but you could sub the suet in instead of the butter and replace some of the fruits with peel.

Apart from gorgeous mince pies (my current recipe is here), you can use mincemeat in a variety of other things. One of our favourites is sandwiched in a crunchy slice. You could make a tart. Delia does a strudel. There's a another great Delia recipe for a mincemeat cake that's delicious - it was our Christmas cake last year.

This makes enough to last us through a Christmas season. Half it if you're not sure. If you're on the fence or have never had it before (it is quite a British thing) then go for it.

Edit 2012: I recently wrote about this mincemeat recipe for The Everygirl - as they're American, the recipe I wrote for them is in cups (it's also a half recipe) but otherwise it's the same.

(adapted from Delia Smith's Christmas)

450g apples (cooking or sour) - roughly 2 big bramleys
225g unsalted butter
340g raisins
340g sultanas
340g golden sultanas
340g dark brown sugar
2 oranges
2 lemons
50g whole almonds
3 tsp mixed spice*
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp/a good grating nutmeg
6 tbsp brandy

Core and chop the apples but don't peel them, then weigh out the 450g. Chop the almonds into slivers. Weigh out the raisins, sultanas, golden sultanas, sugar and spices into a big roasting tray. Add the apples and almonds. Zest and juice the oranges and lemons and add that on top. Mix well. Cover with foil and leave overnight to steep. Stir every now and then.

The next day, preheat the oven to 120C/225F. Cube the butter and add to the tray. Give it a good stir then put the foil-covered tray into the oven for 2 hours. Take out, stir and leave to cool. It will look fatty but don't worry. As it cools, try to stir it every now and again. When cool, stir in the brandy and jar.

(Makes 3 big jars)

* If you can't get mixed spice, I suggest 1 extra tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cloves and 1/4 tsp allspice.

Updated 05/12/16: Just to edit some of the spices and reduce the sugar by 10g.

Updated 18/12/17: I now add the butter the next day - it doesn't need to sit there overnight. I've also tried a small amount of this with coconut oil (took off 1/6th of the recipe after steeping overnight) for my mum who isn't eating dairy at the moment, and it seems to have worked OK. Over the years I've also subbed in some cranberries and I subbed in 100g of dried pears I needed to use up this year, which I actually really like (both instead of more golden sultanas).

Three more Christmas recipes:
Mince Pies
Moulded Gingerbread Cookies
Galette des Rois


  1. It has got to be homemade - it depresses me all the jars of mincemeat in the shops - no wonder people don't like it. This recipe looks great, especially for vegetarians.

  2. I'm with you - homemade all the way ... especially when it is suet and peel free ;0)

  3. Yay! Veggie-friendly mincemeat. Thank you so much for posting this lovely recipe.

  4. This looks amazing! Does it have to be stored in the refrigerator?

  5. Anon no.2 - It's fine out of the fridge. There have been times when we've used a jar from the previous year before making a new batch, so it keeps really well. Perhaps at its best within three months, but perfectly fine afterwards.

  6. My dad and I made some several years ago, we'd purchased a few bushels of apples. We processed the jars in a water bath just long enough to get them to seal and kept/used those jars for almost 5 years before we ran out.

    Mincemeat is a lovely thing when you make it yourself and know what quality ingredients are within. And can leave out the icky suet!

  7. This looks wonderful! A question, though--what spices would be typically be in "mixed spice"?

  8. yshaloo - sealing them in a water bath is a great idea - I must try that some time.

    Jen - I had a look at the ingredients on our pot and it seems to be nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves as I thought, plus coriander seeds and dill which seem pretty random!

  9. could you possibly describe "mixed spice"? what kind of mix? over here in austria, "mixed spice" could be anything from gingerbread spice mix to BBQ spice mix? thanks xo

  10. Oh no! Sorry! Should have checked the other comments properly. Only skimmed them. Not well enough though. Sorry! Thanks for the recipe. Will try it - discovered mince pie as an au pair in GB and was very surprised that it was being offered to coffee, like yule log or cherry muffins.. only to find out there was no mince in it at all :)

  11. Katharina - No worries! If you can't find it, I'd just sub a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves :)

  12. Love this recipe. I would like to make some to give as presents & to use throughout the year - how long will this keep? - Katharine

  13. Katharine - It keeps for at least a year if you sterilize the jars properly :)

  14. I've just taken this out the oven - it smells incredible! We swapped out half the sultanas for cranberries and apricots, hopefully this will still work!

    I've decided to learn how to bake (I cannot cook whatsoever) and this blog has been eye opening - thank you for explaining how to cream butter and sugar!

  15. Nicola - That sounds absolutely delicious, I love apricots and cranberries! So pleased it has been helpful.

  16. What is the difference sultana and golden sultana? I always thought they were the same?

    1. They don't taste different (to me) but you can definitely buy them separately in Switzerland (where I usually make this). I haven't found golden ones in the UK. They just look pretty in the mixture as it gives some colour variation :)

  17. Just pulled a tray of this out of the oven... smells divine! Can't wait to eat the pies on Christmas Day! ;)

    1. I'm so pleased it went well - I really do love this recipe (and that smell)! Merry Christmas!

  18. This was my dad's favorite! I found your blog through Foodspreading that has a post using your mincemeat recipe. I'm so happy - I will make this for Christmas meal. It will be a great way for all of us to remember dad without choking! :)

    1. That's such a touching idea - I hope it goes well. Merry Christmas!


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