Easy, home-made, vegetarian Mincemeat – a traditional seasonal recipe
Mincemeat is a traditional British recipe, consisting of dried fruit, apple, citrus and a good measure of brandy, which is used as a filling for mince pies and other Christmas baked goods. It is sweet, rich, fruity and infused with alcohol.
My mother made mincemeat every Christmas. Her recipe was based on one in an extremely old and battered copy of Mrs Beeton’s Cookery Book, which she always kept to hand in her kitchen. However, she made a few adaptations, such as leaving out the mixed peel because she didn’t like it and adding more brandy for the opposite reason. And I follow her example in this.
My one change to my mother’s recipe is that I use vegetarian suet rather than animal suet. I don’t think it makes any difference to the taste. Mincemeat is a very old recipe, and originally contained meat, and the inclusion of suet was a continuation of this. If you are vegetarian, this recipe has all the taste and no animal products.
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Home-made Mincemeat – why on earth would you bother?
You may be wondering why you would bother to make your own mincemeat when there are a huge number of good quality jars on your supermarket shelves. You might also think that there are even more packets of mince pies available for you to eat right now without bothering to turn on your oven.
Firstly, it is extremely easy to make your own home-made Mincemeat. In fact, calling it a recipe, is a bit of a stretch as you just mix the various ingredients together and then leave them for the flavours to develop. Mincemeat does not require any cooking as the sugar and brandy transform and combine the other ingredients.
The one point you need to bear in mind is that you need to make the Mincemeat a month before you plan to use it. It needs this time for the brandy to work its magic on the dried fruit. So if you want to make mince-pies for Christmas, you need to be thinking about making your Mincemeat in late November. In fact, traditionally it is made on Stir Up Sunday which is the last Sunday before Advent. In 2020, this is Sunday, 22nd November.
It tastes good and keeps for ages
Secondly, there is absolutely no comparison in terms of taste between the shop bought mincemeat and the one you make at home. Even high quality ready-made versions will have a comparatively high proportion of sugar and a comparatively low proportion of brandy. Yes, even those which state that they contain brandy really do not have very much! Home-made mincemeat is full of flavour as, in addition to the brandy and dried fruit, it has a hit of citrus and spice from the nutmeg and cinnamon.
Home-made mincemeat improves with age. The flavours develop and the brandy preserves the other ingredients. It will keep for at least twelve months.
It is Christmas in a jar…
Thirdly, if you want to get your Christmas baking mojo on, this is absolutely the perfect recipe. With the smell of dried fruit soaked in brandy, you have Christmas right there. You get this when you make the mincemeat and, again, when you use it to make mincepies. Buttery pastry, warmed brandy-soaked fruit – need I say more?
…or under the tree
Fourthly, if you are looking for home-made present ideas, this is a pretty good one. You can dress up the jar with a few ribbons and you are good to go. As there is essentially no skill involved whatsoever, and doing the mixing is quite fun, it is definitely worth considering as a home-made present from children to older relatives. Provided said relatives like mincemeat – probably best to check first.
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Other festive sauces and accompaniments
In my view, any festive celebration is not complete without some warm and fragrant Mince Pies made with home-made vegetarian mincemeat. Having the right sauces and accompaniments can take a festive meal to the next level. If you are preparing a special festive meal for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year you might like to try some of my other recipes for drinks, snacks, accompaniments and desserts. They are very easy and are a great way to create a celebratory festive feast!
- All the best celebrations start with a few drinks and nibbles. Instead of buying ready-made snacks, why not try making crisp and savoury Cheese Biscuits , Spiced Roasted Nuts or Moroccan-style Dukkah? If you want something a bit more substantial, you could try my Marinated Feta, Smoked Salmon Pate or Butternut Squash Hummus.
- To accompany your main course, in addition to this Vegetarian Stuffing, you might like my home-made Cranberry Sauce and Bread Sauce. They really are very simple to make and so much better than shop-bought alternatives.
- If you are looking for a vegetarian alternative for your main course, my Mushroom and Chestnut Pies are a really good option. I make these every year for my vegetarian guests and a number of them tend to get eaten by the non-vegetarians!
- I have lots of dessert and pudding recipes. Have a look at the Recipe Index to check them all out. Some of my favourite festive alternatives include Cranberry Pavlova, Cranberry Ice Cream, Banoffee Pie, Lime Cheesecake and Rhubarb Roulade.
Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.
Easy Vegetarian Mincemeat RecipePrint
With sugar, citrus and dried fruit soaked in brandy, this home-made Mincemeat is Christmas in a jar.
- 450 g (1 lb) vegetarian suet
- 450 g (1 lb) currants
- 450 g (1 lb) raisins
- 450 g (1 lb) sultanas
- 450 g (1 lb) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 1 cooking apple
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 75 ml (3 fl oz) brandy
- Put the suet, dried fruit and sugar in a large bowl.
- Peel, core and chop the apple and add it to the bowl.
- Add the nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon zest.
- Pour in the brandy and stir well.
- Pack the mixture into sterilised jars.
- Place the jars in a cool, dry place and leave for at least a month before using.
- Check the jars every week or so. If the top of the Mincemeat looks dry, you can top it up with some more brandy.
You can sterilise your jar by washing it in warm, soapy water, rinsing well and then drying off for 15 minutes in an oven set at 140C/120C fan/gas 1.
If (unlike me) you like mixed peel, you can also add 450 g of it to this recipe.
It is easy to scale up this recipe if you want to make more mincemeat. Simply double or triple the quantities of all the ingredients.
The mincemeat should last for at least six months in its jar. You can also freeze it – taking it out of the jar and putting it into a freezer-proof container – and it will keep for at least twelve months.