This Christmas mincemeat is a heady mix of dried fruit, apples, Bourbon, spices and vegetable suet. Mum and I spent one Sunday, some weeks ago, making batches of it and jarring it, in preparation for a mass mince pie making day in a couple of weeks time.
Nobody really knows the origin of mincemeat but some food historians believe that it may have derived from a revolting medieval food called plum porridge. Plum porridge (or plum pottage, plumb porridge, plomb porridge) was first cited in 1573 and was a concoction of dried fruit, bread crumbs, spices, wine, sherry and sugar. Sounds good so far, but all these ingredients were added to a pot which contained a broiled leg of cow! It is suggested that great quantities of this porridge were made (perhaps to be eaten after a long fast) and were eaten slowly over many weeks. The jelly and fat that solidified on top of the porridge were thought to keep bacteria and fungus at bay and keep the spiced fruit and meat nice and fresh and tasty! Yum 😬
Whatever the origins of mincemeat, this particular recipe is one that my family have used for many years and unlike Plum Porridge, it is suitable for vegetarians. You can swap the shredded vegetable suet for shredded beef suet if you so wish, but as we have vegetarian family members we always make the vegetarian version.
Although it can be a bit of a hassle to make, homemade mincemeat is so much better than the jarred mincemeat you can buy. It is also a great way to use up any excess apples that you have at the end of the apple season. The apples I used were Bramleys from a neighbors apple tree – she did give them to me, I didn’t scrump them honestly!
Anyway, I hope that you do decide to make this mincemeat – I will post ways that you can use it over the next few weeks.