Whilst most kids loved to see presents under the tree at Christmas, I always remember my favourite part of this time of year was all the food!
We were very lucky to have a mum who made everything from scratch – sausage rolls, stuffing, bread sauce, yellow cake, coconut bread (Bajan households know!)…everything on our Christmas menu was made by her fair hands.
All, except one thing; the mincemeat in her mince pies! Mum never made her own mincemeat because well, she had a lot to do. Plus, the supermarkets stock such decadent variations of mincemeat, it was a perfectly acceptable ‘shortcut’. That said, mum ALWAYS makes her own pastry!
Alas, mince pies were the only thing on mum’s Christmas menu that to this day, I never really enjoyed. It was only when I got older, into my late 20’s that I realised why this is; I’m a food snob! Because the mincemeat was shop-bought, I didn’t enjoy it.
It was only when my previous Head of Department brought in her homemade mince pies a few years ago, that I actually tried one (more out of politeness than actually wanting to eat it!) and ENJOYED it! I actually loved it so much I asked her for more (sorry mum!). I asked her what mincemeat she used and she said she made her own – from then I KNEW this was why I never liked mince pies before I ate hers – the mincemeat had to be homemade for me to like them!
So, after years of promising to do so, I finally plucked up the courage to make my own mincemeat this year and surprisingly enough, it was dead easy!!
This simple yet delicious Brandy Mincemeat recipe takes less than 30 minutes to make and can last for months – I even kept a jar that my previous Head of Department gave me for a year!
You will need:
- 175g currants
- 175g raisins
- 175g sultanas
- 175g dried cranberries
- 100g candied orange peel
- 1 cooking apple – peeled and grated
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp mixed spice
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tbsp ground almonds
- 200g light muscavado sugar
- the juice and zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1 orange
- 100g vegetarian suet
- 250ml brandy – the BEST bit!!
This is the easy part!
Simply grab a massive pot, put all the ingredients, except the Brandy into it and stir on a low heat for 10 minutes
Leave the mixture to cool (about 10 mins) then add the Brandy and stir through once more
Store the mincemeat in sterilsed mason jars (preferably ones with an in-built seal – if you don’t have in-built seals in your jars, then use some parchment paper to cover the mouth before screwing the lid on) and store in a cool place for up to 12 months.
I occasionally top mine up with Brandy so that the mincemeat ‘ferments’ over the months and when it comes to Christmas time when you want to make the mince pies, the mincemeat is all lovely and soaked in with Brandy giving it a dense flavour!
I would strongly recommend making some mincemeat now to keep for next year – if you usually buy yours from the supermarket, try this recipe and you will never buy a jar of mincemeat again!! 😉