America doesn’t seem to do mince pies at Christmas. Cookies appear to be the festive baking classic on this side of the pond.
I’ve never been a particular fan of mince pies – unless I can pry off the pastry lid and fill it with clotted cream, but Mr Colonial cravings was raised on them, with his Nan producing them all year round!
Bearing in mind that Christmas is a time of tradition I have conceded to make a batch of mincemeat this week to give it a bit of time to mature and for the flavours to develop.
Bearing in mind my aversion to meat, I don’t put suet in my mincemeat. I don’t even bother with vegetarian suet because I don’t really like the slightly greasy feel it leaves in your mouth and it never really seems necessary to add it for preserving sake. For the amount of time that I keep it for, the booze will take care of that…
makes about 800ml
1 large apple (about 250g once cored)
1 orange (zest and juice)
350g mixed dried fruit and peel (I like to include a few golden raisins to lighten it a bit)
50g glace cherries
200g soft dark brown sugar
1 tsp each ground ginger, cinnamon and allspice
Core the apple but don’t bother to peel it. Chop it really finely (a dinky food processor is good for this) or grate it. Chop the cherries into quarters and zest the orange. Put everything but the booze into a big, heavy based saucepan, squeeze over the juice of the orange and mix well.
Heat to a gentle bubble and leave for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the booze and bring the mixture back up to a bubble and leave for a further 45 minutes until most of the liquid has either been absorbed into the fruit or evaporated off and you are left with a thick compote.
Spoon into warm sterilized jars and seal.
Use to fill pies, tarts, Chelsea buns, baked apples, you can even fold it through a no-churn ice cream.