December’s kitchen – It’s not just for Christmas!

I think it’s the smells of Christmas that I love most at this time of year! Apart from Brussels  – I really don’t see the point in them! Controversial I know and don’t tell Martin I said so!

No one could argue about the smell of a batch of mincemeat pies though and I love making my own mincemeat to go in them – using some of our stored Bramley apples of course. It’s really easy and makes a great gift ahead of Christmas.

This recipe is very versatile to use as it’s already cooked so can be used in no cook recipes to give the flavour of Christmas. I like to add some into stewed apple or even ice cream at any time of year.

Perfect for a Christmas hamper

Perfect for a Christmas hamper

All year round mincemeat

Makes enough for approximately 4x450g (1lb) jars

You can easily vary the fruit and nut ingredients – these are my favourite but you could substitute more cherries, peel, apricots or prunes.

300g Bramley apples, cored, peeled and diced small

150g shredded suet, vegetarian or beef

225g raisins

150g each of sultanas and currants

100g glace cherries

60g chopped mixed peel

30g chopped almonds or pecans

2 teaspoons mixed spice

Half teaspoon ground nutmeg

225g soft dark brown sugar

1 small orange and 2small lemons, juice and grated zest

100ml brandy

Sterilised jam jars with screw top lids

  •  In your largest mixing bowl, tip in all the dry ingredients and mix together. Add in the orange and lemon juice and zest and half the brandy and stir really well to combine all the ingredients. Cover the bowl and leave overnight.
  • Stir in the brandy and make a wish!

    Stir in the brandy and make a wish!

  • After at least 12 hours tip the whole mixture into a large ovenproof dish and cover tightly with tinfoil.
  • Put into a very low oven 120C/fan100C/225F/gas¼ and leave for three hours.
  • During the cooking the suet will melt and when you take the mincemeat out it will look to be running in fat – don’t panic!
  • Take the tinfoil off and leave to cool completely, stirring every now and again. In the last hour or so of cooling you will see the fat starting to thicken, coating all the ingredients.
  • When it is completely cool, stir in the rest of the brandy.

    Stir the mincemeat as it cools

    Stir the mincemeat as it cools

  •  Pot up into your jars, using a spoon to press the mincemeat gently down to get rid of any airpockets. Seal with screw top lids, label and put away in a cool, dark cupboard.

Leave for two weeks before using – if you make some now it’ll just be ready in time to make a fresh mince pie for Father Christmas when he pops down your chimney!

Watch out for a recipe in a couple of weeks to use some of your mincemeat – a variation on mince pies