I know I’ve written about mincemeat before, but we’ve been on a bit of a dietary adventure over the past six months, eating a low carb/high fat diet to alleviate Chris’s Type 2 diabetes – and it’s worked! So we’ve been thinking about adapting many of our favourite recipes to cut down on the carbohydrates. This version of mincemeat contains only 50g of added “half and half” sucrose/stevia. It is not low-calorie, as the dried fruits contain high levels of fructose, but this is absorbed more slowly than other sugars and so is better for diabetics. In any case there’s only a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat in a mince pie anyway. Oh, and it’s also suitable for vegans as it contains no animal products.
- 200g vegetable suet
- 300g cooking apple, peeled and grated
- 50g whole almonds, chopped into slivers
- 200g dried apricots, chopped small
- 140 g raisins
- 300g sultanas
- 225g currants
- 150g dates
- 150g prunes
- 50g brown sugar with stevia (by Tate & Lyle)
- 4 teaspoons mixed spice
- 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- Zest and juice of 2 lemons
- Zest and juice of 2 large clementines
- 6 tablespoons brandy
Put the dates and prunes into a food processor and blitz to a paste. Put in a big ovenproof bowl with all the other ingredients except the brandy, and mix it all together thoroughly. Leave it overnight, covered in a cloth. In the morning, take off the cloth, stir the mixture well and cover it loosely with a piece of foil. Place the bowl in a very low oven (gas mark 1/4, 110 degrees C) for 3 hours, then take it out of the oven. As it cools, give the mixture a stir occasionally. When it’s completely cooled down, stir in the brandy (be generous – and maybe add a splash of Pedro Ximenez sherry as well; after all, it is Christmas…) and mix well, then spoon into sterilised jars and seal with acid-proof lids and wax discs, or parfait jars with rubber seals.
This makes just under 3kg of mincemeat (about 6 normal sized jamjars).
My brother-in-law asked for some of this sauce for his birthday so I’ve renamed it in his honour. I’ve made several versions of this in the past few years and have a “bung it in” attitude to the spices and dried fruits, which has led to some interesting variations in colour and heat. This latest batch is a bit pink, and a tad more heavy on the chili than previously, because you can never guess how hot a chili is until it’s in there… This makes the equivalent of about 4 x1lb jamjars.
- 500g fresh rhubarb (I’ve also used tinned rhubarb occasionally – in which case drain it well, and cut down a bit on the demerara sugar)
- 250g red onions
- 1 long red chili, deseeded
- 2 garlic cloves
- 200g cooking apple, peeled and grated
- 20g (about 2cm) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 2 heaped teaspons ground ginger
- 1 dessertspoon paprika
- 75g sultanas
- 50g dried cherries or dried cranberries or dried dates
- 200ml red wine vinegar
- 50ml balsamic vinegar
- 1 dessertspoon salt
- 500g demerara sugar
Trim and chop the rhubarb finely. Peel and chop the onions into small dice. Deseed the chili and chop that finely too, making sure you protect your hands with rubber gloves to avoid any chili juice being inadvertently rubbed in your eye (or worse…). Peel and grate the apple, and do the same with the fresh ginger. The ginger needs to be grated very finely so that it’s a mush because it’s very fibrous, and the texture of the finished sauce won’t be smooth if there are clumps of ginger in there. Put all of the ingredients in a large, heavy bottomed pan and put on to simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. Give it a stir occasionally.
The texture of the sauce when it’s cooked will be like runny chutney. Take off the heat, leave to cool for a bit then put in a food processor (usually in two or three batches) and process until smooth. Put into warmed sterilised jars or bottles and make sure you use vinegar-proof lids to seal.
The picture shows the latest batch – I think the cranberries and the particularly dark red onions I used have given it a rather nice pink tinge! The bottles were from an online store which supplies all kinds of empty jars and bottles for home preservers – Wares of Knutsford. You can visit their shop too – very nice people!
this is what it looks like before you leave it to stand overnight.
I can’t stand mixed peel in anything. There are far nicer ways of getting a sharp hit of citrus in food without those chewy, hard, waxy bits of “bacon rind”. Here’s our take on the sainted Delia’s mincemeat recipe, which is a lovely balance of sweet, sharp and fruity, without the mixed peel.
- 450g Bramley apples, peeled and grated (easiest way is to peel them then use a box grater on the side with the largest holes – no need to core them, just stop grating when you reach the cores). One big Bramley weighs about 250g.
- 200g shredded vegetable suet
- 350g raisins
- 225g sultanas
- 225g currants
- 150g soft apricots, chopped
- 100g dried cranberries
- 350g soft dark brown sugar
- grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
- grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
- 50g slivered almonds
- 4 teaspoons mixed spice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- half teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 6 tablespoons brandy
This makes just under 3kg of mincemeat (about 6 normal sized jamjars). Mix all of the ingredients together except for the brandy in a large ovenproof bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave it overnight.
Take off the cloth, stir the mixture well and cover it loosely with a piece of foil. Place the bowl in a very low oven (gas mark 1/4, 110 degrees C) for 3 hours, then take it out of the oven. As it cools, give the mixture a stir occasionally. When it’s completely cooled down, stir in the brandy and put into sterilised jars. Seal them well (wax discs and acid-proof lids, or parfait jars with rubber seals).
This keeps for a really long time in a dark, cool place. When you open it to use, if it’s looking a bit solid just mix in a bit more brandy.
This recipe is vegan if you use vegetarian suet. It makes absolutely no difference to the flavour whether you use ordinary suet or vegetarian suet as far as I can tell.
Something else you can use leftover mincemeat for.
- 1 packet ready made filo pastry
- Melted butter
- 1 jar mincemeat
- 1 large Bramley apple, peeled and grated
Mix the grated apple with the mincemeat. Brush a sheet of filo pastry with melted butter and fold in half. Place a spoonful of the apple/mincemeat mixture at one edge, then fold and roll the filo pastry around the apple/mincemeat mixture to make a parcel that looks a bit like a spring roll – the filling should be entirely encased in pastry or it will all burst out the ends. Brush with more melted butter as you fold and roll. Place the mini strudel on a baking tray, with the trailing edge of the filo underneath (to prevent it unravelling in the oven). Continue until you have used up all the filo pastry or the mincemeat mixture. Place the baking tray of mini strudels in a medium to hot oven for 10-15 minutes, until the edges of the pastry are crispy and golden. Serve warm, dusted with icing sugar, with fresh pouring cream or ice cream.
OK so we may be guilty of making industrial quantities of mincemeat, but there’s rarely more than a solitary jar left over every year. Here are two ideas for using up leftover mincemeat, if you should have any.
1. Get a croissant, split it and spread a good spoonful of mincemeat inside. Re-form it into a croissant shape and stick it in a hot oven (or even under the grill) for a few minutes to heat through. Take it out, open it up again and spread some thick cream (or creme fraiche, or clotted cream even) over the hot mincemeat. Re-form it into a croissant shape and eat, remembering that hot mincemeat gets REALLY HOT. Repeat until no croissants are left.
2. Use mincemeat as a base for a Christmassy apple pie or crumble – spread a couple of big spoonfuls over the base of your uncooked pie crust (or pie dish if you’re doing crumble) then proceed as with a normal apple pie or crumble – pile apples on top, add the top crust or the crumble, bake as normal. Yum.
I hate mixed peel and I hate shop-bought mincemeat. So home-made mincemeat it is, courtesy of Delia Smith’s original recipe with a bit of tweaking. Super easy and very satisfying.
- 1 lb (450 g) Bramley apples, peeled, cored and grated
- 8 oz (225 g) shredded vegetable suet
- 12 oz (350 g) raisins
- 8 oz (225 g) sultanas
- 8 oz (225 g) currants
- 8 oz (225 g) a combination of chopped dried apricots, dried cranberries, dried blueberries and chopped dried cherries (anything but mixed peel)
- 12 oz (350 g) soft dark brown sugar
- Grated zest and juice 2 oranges
- Grated zest and juice 2 lemons
- 2 oz (50 g) whole almonds, cut into slivers
- 4 level teaspoons mixed ground spice
- ½ level teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 6 tablespoons brandy, calvados, southern comfort or any other aromatic spirit that takes your fancy
You will also need 6 x 1lb (350ml) jam jars and 6 waxed discs
All you do is combine all the ingredients, except for the brandy, in a large mixing bowl, stirring them and mixing them together very thoroughly indeed. Then cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave the mixture in a cool place overnight or for 12 hours, so the flavours have a chance to mingle and develop. After that, pre-heat the oven to gas mark ¼, 225°F (110°C). Cover the bowl loosely with foil and place it in the oven for 3 hours, then remove the bowl from the oven. Don’t worry about the appearance of the mincemeat, which will look positively swimming in fat. This is how it should look. As it cools, stir it from time to time; the fat will coagulate and, instead of it being in tiny shreds, it will encase all the other ingredients. When the mincemeat is quite cold, stir well again, adding the brandy. Pack in jars that have been sterilised (see below). When filled, cover with waxed discs and seal. The mincemeat will keep for ages in a cool, dark cupboard – I have kept it for up to 2 years with no ill effects.
NOTE: To sterilise jars, wash the jars and lids in warm soapy water, rinse well, then dry thoroughly with a clean tea cloth, place them on a baking tray and put into a medium oven, gas mark 4, 350°F, 180°C, for 5 minutes.