Nothing says British Christmas like mincemeat. Originally mincemeat was made with ground meat, offals, eggs and whatever else was on hand. The first mince pies were prepared by the Crusaders in the 11th century. Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg) brought back from the Holy Land were added to the mince and baked into oblong cradled shaped pies, representing the gifts of the Magi and the birth of Christ.
By the Victorian era, savvy cooks like Mrs. Beeton were starting to make mince without meat, but the tradition of suet remains. You can substitute shortening to get a similar result. My local butcher gives it to me free so you may wish to give it a try.
Easy Peasy Classic Mincemeat
- 3 large lemons
- 4 cups raisins
- 4 cups currants
- 1 ½ cups shredded suet* or 1/2 cup softened butter or shortening
- 2 cups brown sugar or sugar substitute
- 1 cup mixed candied peel
- 2 tsp. allspice
- 2 tsp. ground cloves
- 2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 cup brandy or rum
- 1 tbsp. orange marmalade
- Peel the zest off the lemons, avoiding the white pulp, then finely dice. Juice the lemons then add to a Dutch oven.
- Add in the remaining ingredients except the brandy. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer until it has thickened and is syrupy, about 45 minutes.
- Allow the mixture to cool, then add the alcohol.
- Store the mincemeat in a cool place until ready to use.