Mincemeat seems to have a bad reputation in the US (unlike in Europe and especially the UK), and isnít particularly popular, especially with young people. According to Whatís Cooking in America mincemeat originated over 500 years ago in England as a way of preserving meat. Over the years, most cooks have omitted most or all of the meat in their recipes, and mincemeat has become a rich, sweet dessert filling. Shredded suet is an ingredient in most mincemeat recipes, however, but vegetable shortening or vegetable suet can be substituted, especially for vegetarian versions.
My first taste of mincemeat was during my teenage years in a slice of pie at a restaurant where I worked. The first few bites were okay, but it was so rich, I was sick before I had eaten even half of the slice. I never tasted it again until I started traveling and sampled it in tiny tarts in London. What a difference! Those tarts became my favorite treat and I started bringing English mincemeat home in jars so that I could duplicate those delicious English Mince Tarts. When I ran out of my jarred mincemeat, I found recipes in my English cookbooks and began to make my own. Although homemade mincemeat has quite a few ingredients, it isnít difficult to make. It does, however need to be made ahead so that the flavors have a few weeks to develop.
The following recipe for Traditional English Mincemeat Filling is a combination of several English recipes. Itís fabulous, not only in tarts, but in cheesecakes, in cookies, over ice cream, in coffee cakes, in steamed Christmas puddings, and in numerous other desserts.
About 12 cups filling
2 large green apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
8 ounces suet
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 1/3 cups raisins, chopped
1 1/2 cups golden raisins
1 1/2 cups currants
3/4 cup mixed candied fruits
3 1/2 ounces chopped almonds
1 tablespoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
5 ounces brandy, divided
- Combine all ingredients with 1/2 cup of the brandy in a large bowl.
- Mix thoroughly and spoon into sterilized warm jars.
- Use a skewer to remove air bubbles and pack the mixture in firmly.
- Leave a 5/8 inch space at the top of each jar and wipe the jar clean with a cloth.
- Spoon the remaining brandy over the surface of the mince and seal (process according to the directions for your region).
- Label and date the jars.
- Set aside for at least 3 weeks or up to 6 months (Iíve kept it much longer Ė over a year - and itís still great), before using in pies and tarts.
- If planning to use some of the filling within 3-6 weeks, omit sealing in jars; simply cover tightly and refrigerate.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 137 Calories from Fat 52
Percent Total Calories From: Fat 38% Protein 3% Carb. 54%
Nutrient Amount per Serving
Total Fat 6 g
Saturated Fat 3 g
Cholesterol 3 mg
Sodium 3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 18 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 1 g
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 18% Calcium 0% Iron 3%