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Will my mincemeat ferment?
Wed 16-Oct-13
5:38 pm
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irist
Cornwall UK

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Can anyone advise me please? I am trying out a new fat free recipe for mincemeat. The method is to simmer the fruit, etc in a cider and brown sugar syrup then to cool the softened mixture for 10 mins before adding rum/brandy. I have used a similar recipe previously but have successfully frozen the resultant mincemeat. This year I need to transport the mincemeat in jars to my son's home but I'm concerned that mixing alcohol with such a high sugar product will cause it to ferment. Help please as the fruit is cooked and awaiting my attention. I suppose I could mix in the alcohol at my son's house but I would like the mincemeat to mature. Your comments would be appreciated.

Wed 16-Oct-13
6:05 pm
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Xahha
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Alcohol will help to prevent moulding as it inhibits the growth of microrganisms- it really depends on how much is in the recipe as to how much more it inhibits growth.
What makes you think it would be susceptible to mould growth out of interest?

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Wed 16-Oct-13
6:34 pm
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irist
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Thanks for your reply, Martin. The recipe includes 250 ml of cider in which the apples, dried fruit, nuts and spices are cooked. I guess that the cooking will kill the alcohol content of the cider. Once the cooked fruit mix has cooled the recipe calls for 6 tablespoons of rum/brandy to be added (total weight of mincemeat is approx 4lb).
The reason I ask is that in the past I have made a similar mincemeat and it has fermented in the jar, causing some of the liquid to force it's way out of the jar. That's why I have been freezing my mincemeat since. I am very careful to sterilise my jars and lids so I don't introduce any nasties that way when making my preserves. I have never made traditional mincemeat containing suet/fat as we are on a low fat diet so I can't compare the method/results.

Wed 16-Oct-13
7:41 pm
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Xahha
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OK understood- the alcohol will help -is it a very runny mincemeat, that is all I can think of that would allow the fermentation to take place? Organisms need available water to be able to grow- in normal mincemeat there is very little available water, it tends to be bound in to the mix more.

For those of a technical nature, the term used is water activity-written as "aw" and is given a number between 0 and 1 and It relates to how much water vapour is present in the space above, (the headspace) in this case mincemeat, and the container it is in. A low aw number means the vapour pressure in the headspace is low relative to just water in a jar on its own.
For example an aw of 0.2 relates to dried vegetables and an aw of 0.8 relates to Jam and a figure of 0.95 to 1.0 relates to milk, meat or fresh fruit.

So below the figure of 0.8 most moulds won't grow. It also depends on the acidity, so adding a little more lemon juice to your mincemeat would also help to prevent mould growth. As always with these queries, it is hard to recommend a solution by long range correspondence.

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Wed 16-Oct-13
8:15 pm
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Xahha
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This recipe is meant to last up to 3 years in a jar and is a fatless mincemeat. Is this anything like yours?

3/4 pint of strong cider
1 lb soft dark brown sugar
1 lbcooking apple, cored & chopped
1 teaspoonground mixed spice
1 teaspoonground cinnamon
1 teaspoonground ginger
1 pinchground cloves
12 ouncescurrants
12 ouncesraisins
8 ouncessultanas
4 ounces glace cherries, finely chopped
4 ounces candied peel
4 ounces almonds, finely chopped
1 orange, juice and zest of
1 lemon, juice and zest of
1/4 pint brandy or 1/4 pint rum

1 Put the cider and sugar into a large saucepan & heat GENTLY until the sugar has completely dissolved.
2 Stir in the rest of the ingredients, except the brandy or rum and slowly bring to the boil - stirring ALL the time!
3 (Please note it is not necessary to peel the apples - just core and chop them up finely.).
4 Lower the heat and partially cover the saucepan and simmer gently for 30 to 45 minutes.
5 Remove from the heat and leave it to become completely cold.
6 Stir in the brandy or rum and then spoon into cold, sterilised jars, making sure that the mincemeat is packed down firmly with NO space or air bubbles.
Fill in to jars wityh tight fitting lids and leave to mature.

The owner of the recipe says like I did that the alcohol keeps the mincemeat.

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Wed 16-Oct-13
8:16 pm
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irist
Cornwall UK

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Thanks again, Martin. I shall take your advice and add some extra lemon juice to the mix along with 4 rather than 6 tbspns of alcohol. Currently the cooked fruit is the consistency of chutney so I hope adding the extra liquid will not be a problem. Your willingness to explain the technical detail in a comprehensible way is much appreciated.

Wed 16-Oct-13
8:27 pm
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irist
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Sorry - I've just seen the recipe you posted. It is very similar to the one I have used so hopefully this time my efforts will be more successful. I notice "your" recipe has the juice and zest of a lemon and an orange whereas mine has only the juice and zest of 1 lemon. My recipe also has more apple in it. I shall leave the mixture to cool completely overnight, covered in the pan. I'll add the brandy tomorrow before potting up.

Wed 16-Oct-13
10:56 pm
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Xahha
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I would still add the 6 of rum, it will help rather than hinder, and also the extra citrus juice just to increase the acidity.

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Thu 17-Oct-13
10:09 am
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irist
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Well the deed is done. The mixture has been decanted into the jars to mature. Many thanks, Martin.

Sun 27-Oct-13
10:46 am
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maggenpie
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Thanks for posting the recipe, Martin. It hadn't occurred to me to look for a fatless mincemeat but that's just what I need. smile

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