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Posted on | Tags: cooking, not-recipe, Christmas | Comments (5)

If you'd like to know how to make mincemeat, consult Delia, or someone else who knows what they're talking about. This is how I do it.

bowl of mincemeat

Get the cheapest mixed dried fruit - the kind with plenty of chopped peel in it - chop a few handfuls of that (it'll absorb liquid better if it's cut. It also disguises the cheapness), add a handful of currants, also chopped (that's fiddly!) and leave in a basin with a good slug of brandy over the top. Mix that from time to time.

Those plums that have been sitting in the fruitbowl for a while... trim off any bits that look unappetising and chop the rest finely. Those can go in.

One Bramley apple from the discounted bagful I bought the other day - peel and grate that.

The remains of jar of home-made marmalade. It must be four years ago that I made that! The only reason I haven't eaten it is that it's somewhat fermented. That won't be noticeable with the brandy and spices - that can go in.

Have I still got that sloe pulp left over from making sloe wine... um, must be a couple of years ago? Oh yes, there it is - good as new. A good dollop of that can go in.

Treacle - I'm sure there should be treacle. Pour a bit of that in.

I like crystalised ginger - one piece of that, finely chopped.

Am I onto the spices yet? Might as well be. What have I got? Cinnamon... nutmeg - oh, here's some ground nutmeg - I wonder how long that's been there? That could do with using up... cloves - grind a few of those up in the pestle and mortar. How many - four? five? That'll do. Oh, here's a jar of mixed spice - smells reasonably fresh - put some of that in as well.

The mixture's looking fairly wet at this point, so strain off the brandy before adding in the dried fruit. Taste the liquid - yes, that's definitely brandy. Taste the mixture - ooh, that was too many cloves.

Add some dark brown sugar (not muscovado, a cheaper alternative). Chop and add some more mixed, dried fruit. Is that another plum behind the bowl there? I must have missed that earlier. Chop that and add it.

Take a recipe book off the shelf to see what else I've forgotten. The Great British Book of Baking book - surely that'll include mince pies. Yes... "About 400g of best mincemeat" - oh, for goodness sake! Try Delia - I should have asked her in the first place. Here we are... "I give you a warning here. Once you've tasted home-made mincemeat in mince pies, you'll never again be able to revert to shop-bought." Hmm, not sure about that, Delia. To be fair, shop-bought has got a lot better since she wrote that.

Right, what have I missed? Almonds - I was wondering whether to include any nuts. I can't find the flaked almonds, but I've got ground - they'll soak up some of the liquid. Chuck some of those in. Maybe a few finely chopped walnuts, too.

How about some apricots - I'm sure I've got some here somewhere... oh yes, there they are! Chop and add a few of those. Oh go on then, I'll put some cranberries in, too. What else did I buy them for, really?

How are we doing? Taste again... that's not at all bad. I'll leave it a bit for the flavours to blend. By the time I've finished that brandy it'll be delicious, I'm sure.

Comments (5)

  1. Paul Campbell:
    Dec 14, 2020 at 03:34 AM

    Im with you all the way until the almonds. I will have to try it using your method and make 2 batches, one with almonds and one without. I can eat bakewell tart, even though that tastes of almonds but anything with actual almonds in i usually dislike. Almond slices, no, cant eat those. However you have used a lot of other fruit and that may disguise the taste enough. Like i say, ill have to try it before i fully give my opinion, maybe this will change my mind aboout almonds? Great methodology in your writing, this post stands out to me so far as feeling more natural and flowing. On other parts of the site, the formatting on the index page (the first page you come to on the website not the blog) has now changed in such a way that it now doesnt fit right on my iPhone. There is a big white box at the bottom of the page that doesnt seem like it should be there. The rest of the page is kinda pushed upwards so you have half a page of the picture and half as a blank box. Just thought i would let you know incase you hadnt seen it :)


    1. rseabrook:
      Dec 15, 2020 at 02:40 PM

      Oh, don't use almonds if you don't like them! I'm a big fan of them myself, but I'm a strong believer in not forcing yourself to eat things you don't like, especially at Christmas time. When you say you'll try this, I hope you mean the general principle of using what you have in the cupboard, not that you're going to seek out four-year-old, slightly fermented marmalade! I'm glad you like the style :-) I suspect it may not be to everyone's taste.

      Thanks for the feedback on the site, too. I haven't been focusing on the site main page much, just fiddling with it from time to time. How annoying that I've spoilt it for your iPhone. I'll have to have another go at that.


      1. Paul Campbell:
        Dec 15, 2020 at 03:47 PM

        Yes i have a lot of things in the cupboards that i can use, i actually have some almonds too but they might have been there a bit too long. I will try it with and without though just to test it as if i don't like the one with almonds i can give it to my neighbours who I'm sure will eat it.

        The website is coming along great, its better so far than i could make. I can fix computer hardware but web design is something i have not kept up with. I used to be able to make sites years ago with Dreamweaver but haven't made any for years now. Like i just realised about setting Instagram to tell me when people post like on youtube, so i just set it for yours as i missed 4 of your posts on there.


  2. Jayne:
    Dec 14, 2020 at 11:18 AM

    Eclectic - and I expect it's going to taste marvellous. ????
    Your personalised creation is probably far closer to a traditional mix than any modern recipe, I have always thought things like mincemeat would have come from women making the best of whatever they had to hand.


    1. rseabrook:
      Dec 15, 2020 at 02:45 PM

      Good point, I'm sure you're right that "whatever's in the cupboard" played a big part in traditional "recipes". It does taste pretty good at the moment, though still rather heavy on the cloves. While looking up uses for carrots, yesterday (I have loads), I was reminded that they've often been used to pad out sweet dishes. I might grate one of those and mix it in to dilute the mix a bit, and add a little more sugar and the other spices. Also, I completely forgot to include any fat - Delia uses suet - so I may grate in a bit of the tallow I've got in the fridge (it didn't all go in the paint).


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