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Best mincemeat recipe for mince pies and puddings

homemade mincemeat

Mince pies are the quintessential Christmas treat. But every year loads of us bite into a proffered mince pie and resolve never to accept one again. it’s a shame as nothing beats a homemade one, bursting with mincemeat and a slug of brandy. I always make a few on Christmas Eve. I was pretty smug about them until Anne Mary mentioned that she always made her own mincemeat. I’m embarrassed to admit this but five years ago I didn’t know that you could make your own. I rushed home and thumbed through our cookbooks, convinced that it would be a complicated grinding, sieving, mincing process. It’s not. It’s really easy.

There was one major drawback, most of the recipes that I found produced mincemeat with a short shelf life. The apples often start to ferment after a couple of months. I didn’t want to make just the one jar or a batch to give away labeled “Unstable contents. Eat me within two months as I might explode”.

Then I struck gold, Delia Smith’s ‘Complete Illustrated Cookery Course’ includes a recipe that solves the fermentation problem. We have tweaked it over the years and now just stick to the original with one exception. We replace the candied peel (we are not fans) with halved glacĂ© cherries (we’re addicted to these). We add the cherries with the brandy when the mincemeat comes out of the oven and has cooled down. Delia’s mincemeat recipe is simple to make and absolutely delicious. Luckily she has published the recipe on her website and the link is here.

Great mincemeat is not just for mince pies at Christmas. Delia has a lot of recipe ideas for puddings on her site that are worth checking out. Danny stuffed cooking apples with a jar of mincemeat that he found loitering in the fridge. Baked for for 40 minutes in a moderate oven they have become one of our favourite puds at this time of year.

Tips and tips:

  • If you are pressed for time you can adapt shop bought mincemeat by adding a small handful of halved glacĂ© cherries and sultanas soaked overnight in brandy. Always add a teaspoon of brandy to shop mince pies. The best shop bought mince pies are the luxury ones from M&S and Waitrose.
  • Update November 2009:
  • As Delia says the mincemeat has a really long shelflife. I opened a jar from our 2006 batch tonight and it’s fine!

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  1. Granny Annie

    Have been trying to make glutin free mincemeat. Commercial veg. suet has wheat flour in it. Any ideas? Am about to try melted block palm oil, given Delia’s recipe which melts the fat.

    my recipe is 100 years old, passed down through the family, children, grandchildren and great grand children have all taken their turn on the mincer through the years. It has never yet fermented, perhaps because of cold draughty houses and perhaps because it is soon gone.

    Granny Annie

    • If you are in the uk, Morrisons suet is gluten free. Or you can grate beef fat from the butchers (but I never fancied that!)
      Before I could get the gf suet I used to use melted fat approach but much prefer suet.

      Hope this helps

  2. I’ve made the Delia recipe for first time this year so can’t help with others issues. I used whatever mixed fruit leftovers I had from pudddIng and christmas cake so included cranberries and glace cherries.

    It’s just come out of oven and looks ok so far. The jarring method confuses me slightly as uncertain whether to jar when still warm or wait to cool and use warm jars etc….I guess just try it and see how well it keeps by waiting to cool, stir in brandy then jar. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  3. Diane Rivero-Wain

    after over 19 years with no problems, I now have fermenting mincemeat oozing out of the jars. It’s a cooked recipe, with cherry brandy added when cooled then jarred.. Should I cooked it again? Thank you for any help..

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