There was a time when all mincemeat would be homemade and members of the family would be expected to give the pot a stir for good luck. Every year I make a massive batch of mincemeat which I use throughout the following years' holiday season for mince pies, mince shortbread and I use my own mincemeat in my Christmas cake and Christmas pudding which saves time and cannot be beat for taste. I always include a homemade brandy to my mincemeat which is normally a cherry brandy but this year I have made my first quince brandy which I have added to my mincemeat recipe as well as adding chopped pieces of the strained quince which flavoured the quince brandy. I added a jar of black cherry and black pepper compote that I had made in July. To that I added bramley apples, preserved and crystallised ginger, lots of wintery spices and rum as well as the divine quince brandy. I think that mincemeat needs at least a month to rest before enjoying and I store mine in a cool, dark place for one year.
Today is mincemeat making day, which actually began yesterday with several stages that started in earnest in July. I'm teaching a Christmas Healthy Eating series of workshops at Comet Children's Centre and I have been telling the families on the course that mincemeat is a traditional course with no traditions, no right or wrong. If you don't like nuts don't add them, if you don't like raisins try dried apricots or figs. For the mincemeat that we made on the course we did not add alcohol as it's a Children's Centre but it is still delicious and we have been converting it into mince pies, mini Christmas cake muffins and mincemeat shortbread. I'm proud to say that I have changed many a guest's opinion who has proudly stated that they don't like mince pies or Christmas pudding. I'm sure that the preservatives added to store bought items bring a sacrifice in flavour. Besides just the flavour, the sacrifice of time spent on making homemade mincemeat can be a recapture of old traditions that we have lost.