Mincemeat - Twelve Foods of Christmas
Mincemeat and mince pies are markers of Christmas. Mincemeat is the filling baked inside pies and they originally contained dried fruit, spices, vinegar and meat when they first appeared in the 15th century. There’s the old wives' tale that you should eat a mince pie on each of the 12 days of Christmas for good luck in the upcoming year. Listen for a brief look at mincemeat and see below for a summary more information, tips and recipes.
Mincemeat is the filling baked inside pies and they originally contained dried fruit, spices, vinegar and meat when they first appeared in the 15th century.
Along with spices and the tradition of fruits and meats, a version of mincemeat came to the UK from the Middle East.
As spices and sugar became more readily available and with the switch from vinegar to brandy the meat fell out of favour and mincemeat morphed into a sweeter dish rather than the savoury dish of its beginnings. Suet, a binder made of animal fat, is still often used in mincemeat however there are lots of vegan alternatives which I always so that everyone can enjoy my mince pies.
Looking at the etymology of ‘mincemeat’ the ‘mince’ is from the Latin of ‘minutia’ as the individual elements of mincemeat are chopped fine and bound into their own creation. The 'meat' is to signify the ‘meaty' mixture that results from the recipe that thickens and stews the ingredients.
There is the superstition that if one should stir clockwise when making mincemeat to avoid bad luck if they stir anti-clockwise.
Smy Goodness Mincemeat Recipe
2.5k bramley apples
100g citrus peel
2kg dried fruit mix
200g crystallised ginger
150 ml Quince Brandy or fruit flavoured brandy or regular Brandy
4 oranges (juice and zest)
1 jar Black Cherries and Black Pepper Smy Goodness Compote
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp all spice
1.5 tsp grated nutmeg
900g dark brown sugar
24 pink peppercorns
1 tsp mace
Place all the chopped fruit, the juice and zest of the oranges, sugar in a large stockpot and stir well.
Cook over low heat until all the sugar has dissolved.
Grind all the peppercorns and cloves in a mortar and pestle.
Add the spices, compote, dried fruit mix, citrus peel, crystallised ginger, nuts and brandy.
Increase the heat to medium and cook uncovered for half an hour until the mixture stats to thicken.
Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for another 45 minutes, stirring all the time.
When the mixture is thick and juicy, with all the ingredients combined remove it from the heat.
Place the mixture into clean and sterilised jars, leaving 1 cm space from the top of your jars.
Lid and keep in a cool, dark and dry place.
I recommend using half of your yield this Christmas and saving some for the following year.
A few years back I decided to bundle all my interests together and rebrand from Smy Chutney to Smy Goodness so that all my preserves, crafts, products and workshops could live together in one place. My own podcast seemed a suitable place to uncover, understand and enjoy things related to food, art, history and design. Please do share your stories, knowledge, questions and suggestions. In the Smy Goodness.com podcast section you will find the podcasts and all the items that we are discussing and will have ongoing discussions about each week.
You can also follow Smy Goodness on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. I'd like to thank Ashley Palmer for use of his Roland R-09 and Matteo Borea for creating the music. Thank you for listening.
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