Homemade mincemeat knocks the socks off anything you can buy in the shops. Fact. Luckily for me, in the past I've been gifted lovingly made jars of the stuff by friends and family. But this year as December approached the cupboards were bare.
So I set off in search of a recipe. The sort of tried and tested one that can't go wrong (but that I would inevitably end up playing around with because I can't help myself). I thought Delia might hold the key, but melted suet? What's that all about? Not for me.
Whenever I need what I'd refer to as a staple recipe (you know, things like simnel cake, shortbread, lemon curd...) to work from there is a handful of food blogs I tend to turn to. One of them is Gin and Crumpets written by fellow South East London dweller, Jassy. She writes recipes that work and ones that I want to cook.
Armed with her wonderful recipe for Apple & Lemon Mincemeat (and some advice along the way) I set about creating my own vat of mincemeat. For that is what I made, a rather large quantity of mincemeat to see me through the festive season. I haven't put mine into jars as I reckon it won't be in existence any longer than a couple of weeks, so it's currently residing in a large tupperware in my cupboard. But you could of course sterilise some jars to store it in or to give away as gifts.
1.2kg mixture of sultanas and raisins (I used Waitrose vine fruit mix)
300g dried cranberries
500g bramley apples (peeled & cored weight - approx 5 medium apples)
300g vegetarian suet
300g golden caster sugar
zest & juice of 3 oranges
zest & juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
1.5 tsp ground mixed spice
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
Put the lemon and orange zest in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for half an hour. This will help extract any bitterness. I use a zester to remove long strips of zest, but if you haven't got one you can either grate the zest using a fine grater or pare the zest with a peeler (taking care not to take too much of the white pith which is bitter).
Mix the dried fruit (sultanas, raisins and cranberries) in a large bowl and pick over to get rid of any stems .
Drain the lemon and orange zest and chop. Stir the zest and all of the orange and lemon juice into the dried fruit.
Peel, core and coarsely grate the apples. Add the grated apples, vegetable suet, sugar, brandy and spices to the dried fruit mixture and stir to mix thoroughly. The apples go brown pretty quickly when peeled, so I did a few at a time, adding them to the dried fruits as I went along so that the lemon juice prevent them from going brown.
Leave to stand for a few hours, covered with a tea towel, returning to stir the mincemeat regularly.
If you are just making the mincemeat to use over a couple of weeks then it will keep perfectly well sealed in a plastic container. If you want to store it in jars to keep it for longer, then fill sterilised jars, seal and store in a cool dark place.
Use to make mince pies.
Huge thanks to Jassy of Gin and Crumpets for her mincemeat guidance.