I offered up my recipe for mince pies a few weeks ago, these rich treats are highly portable, full of goodness and sadly neglected outside December. I mentioned at the time I was refining my recipe for homemade mincemeat and I think I now have something worth sharing. For those of you clinging to tradition it will be too late for 2017, this recipe is not for the impatient since it takes four weeks!
Ingredients (makes 9-12 jars)
750ml cooking brandy (save the good stuff for drinking)
100ml port or whisky or rum (I don’t drink whisky or rum so not tried this directly, but it should work fine)
Two jars of my crunchy apple sauce (if using shop brought you will reduce the amount, this is due to the latter being thinner and runnier)
Two jars of good quality black cherry jam (go for the highest percentage fruit content you can find, I use 55%)
200g shredded vegetable suet (meat suet is fine if you prefer)
*If you have a strong preference or dislike for one of the three vine fruits feel free to increase or decrease the proportion accordingly.
1. Mix the vine fruit together in two large bowls, I find this easier to manage the stirring and steeping than using just one bowl. Alternatively halve all the ingredients and make less.
2. Add the port (or whisky/rum) and a third of the brandy. Stir well to coat the fruits and cover. Store somewhere cool, dust free and out of direct sunlight.
3. Stir the mix every 24-36 hours, you don’t have to be precise, just move the fruit at the bottom where the brandy collects to the top and vice versa.
4. One week later.
5. Add another third of brandy, stir in well, cover and store. Continue the mixing every day or so.
6. One week later.
7. Add the remaining brandy, stir in well, cover and store. Continue the mixing every day or so.
8. One week later.
9. In a large soup or jam pan melt the jam and apple sauce over a low heat, until the jam has melted. Add the vine fruit in batches, stirring as you go to coat the fruit in the sauce. Gently increase the heat to medium and steam starts to rise.
10. Add the vegetable suet, stirring in to get an even distribution. The suet will start to melt coating the various fruits. This is good but you want to keep some of the suet pellets intact for that traditional look.
11. If you are happy with the mixing and that it is thoroughly heated you can bottle it into your sterilised jars. Better to be heated longer (but not hotter) to make sure.
12. Leave at least one week before using to allow the mincemeat to mature.
Once cooled the sealed jars can be kept in a cool dark cupboard unopened for months. Use within a week once opened.