Mince pies now only made around the festive period where once a dish for all high days and holidays in the medieval calendar. Originally made with minced mutton and mutton fat, with spices sugar and dried fruit to preserve the meat. Now our tastes have changed and we prefer them without the meat, the addition of minced mutton or lamb make an interesting change but I am unsure if it would agree with most peoples palates. Commercially made mince meat can be very good at best, bland and sugary at worst. If you do buy the mincemeat it is best to perk it up with the addition of some extra brandy and an extra grated apple for some added moisture. There are many recipes for mincemeat most of them call for the addition of suet to the fruit, you can use vegetarian suet or as an alternative grated creamed coconut block works just as well. My mince meat is quiet traditional, the types of fruit are up to you, so long as the proportions of fruit to sugar remain the same. Mince meat is best left for at least a week before you make your pies, however the process can be sped up if you cook all the ingredients together for an hour over a low heat or in a low oven and allowing it to cool before you make pies

For my mince meat,

makes six medium sized jars.

2 large sharp cooking apples unpeeled

Juiced and zested 1 orange

Juiced and zested 1 lemon

450g grated suet vegetable or beef or creamed coconut

100g almond and brazil nuts toasted and roughly chopped

1.5kg dried vine fruit (see Christmas cake note)

100g glace cherries 50g glace pine apple or dried apricots

350g dark brown soft sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp nutmeg grated

1tsp mixed spice

150ml brandy/rum or whiskey

All that is required is for you to chop the larger fruit quite small. Them place all the ingredients in a large bowl and give it a good mix making sure everything is well distributed. Now pack in to sterilized jars and leave for a week at least or as long as a year.

Superb mincemeat which is both full of flavour and interesting surprises.

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