There’s nothing worse than a horrible dry christmas mince pie, and, in my experience, most of the ones you buy are just that. You can of course buy nice ones, but I refuse to pay $3.50-$4 for a gourmet one every time the cravings kick in. So, because I looooooove christmas mince pies (and hot cross buns, must be the seasonality of them) every year I made a large batch of christmas fruit mince to use and to give away.
Homemade christmas fruit mince (hereafter refered to as ‘xmas mince’ because I’m too lazy to type it out in full every the time) is a million times nicer to eat than pre-prepared stuff too. And the best thing about it is that you can include what you love (in my case almonds) and exclude what you dislike (for me that’s peel – yuck!). Oh and you can be heavy-handed on the brandy or rum too if you want to make them ‘extra special’.
If you’ve never made xmas mince before it is so simple – the hardest part is chopping up apple (and if you use a food processor even that ‘problem’ goes away) and sterilising jars (and there is even an out for that if you can’t be bothered).
This recipe is based on one that belonged to my great-grandmother (my mum’s dad’s mum). And I say based because she used suet in hers and it’s a bit hard to come by these days. If you’re unfamiliar with suet, it’s is raw beef or mutton fat and it has a melting point of about 45-50 deg C. It’s traditionally used in xmas mince to give it a hearty flavour and keep the dried fruit moist (hence why most commercially manufactured mince is so dry!).
As an aside, traditionally xmas mince (or ‘mincemeat’) was actually made with minced meat – usually beef or venison – and suet was added too. Eww is all I can say to that – I much prefer the meat free version!
Anyway, the recipe below is based on a traditional old recipe. If you prefer the ‘fattiness’ of fat based xmas mince then by all means grate in a cup of vegetable fat (or suet!) but, by being generous with the liquid (which admittedly is mostly alcohol) you can make a lovely moist mince. If you really want to make just as my great-grandma did, I’ve put the original recipe right down the bottom of the page.
The recipe below makes 6-10 jars (6 pasta sauce size jars, 10 jam size jars) and I usually make my xmas mince mid-October but have been a bit distracted this year – the longer you can leave it to mature the better it gets (I have a 2-year old jar that I’ll crack open for Chirstmas day!). I usually make a few big jars for me and a few smaller jars to give away. So really, what are you waiting for? Read the recipe below and get started now!
PS: if you’d like to win a jar of my very own homemade xmas mince then pop on over to this post and enter the competition. Oh and you’ll also get a copy of Peter Gordon’s amazing new book “Everyday”. Go on click here, you know you want to!
Makes enough for 6-10 jars depending on their size
3 cups currants
3 cups sultanas and/or raisins
2 apples, cored and finely diced
zest and juice of 2 oranges
zest and juice of 2 lemons
140 g slivered almonds (or other chopped nuts)
1 tbsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp ground mixed spice
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 cups brown sugar
1/2-3/4 cup brandy or rum
- Place all ingredients into a large bowl and mix very well. Start with 1/2 cup of brandy/rum and add more if you think it’s looking too dry. All the fruit should be well coated in liquid and the sugar mostly dissolved. You should also have some liquid in the bottom of the bowl.
- Spoon into hot sterilised jars (include a bit of the liquid that’s in the bottom of the bowl) and cover with lids. Store in a cool dark place. Tip the jars upside down (or right way up) once a week to make sure all the fruit stays plump. Mince will keep for up to three years in sterilised jars. Once opened, store in the fridge.
If you don’t want to sterilise jars then you can put it in super clean, tight sealing plastic containers and keep it in the fridge. It will only keep 4 or 5 weeks but it is faster to make.
I have to admit *cough* I never make the pastry for my pies. I always use Pams Sweet Shortcrust Pastry. You can buy it in 400 g blocks for less than $2 and one block makes 12 muffin-tin sized pies and 24 mini-muffin tin pies.
Buying it is much easier and cheaper than making it yourself and, if you keep a block or two in the freezer in the lead up to christmas you can whip up homemade mince pies in a no time at all – perfect for last-minute invites.
Either way, roll your pastry out to about 3-4mm thick, cut out circles, press into well-greased tins. I like to top them with little stars but you can also cover them completely (you won’t get as many pies from 400 g of pastry if you do).
Give your xmas mince a really good stir before you spoon it into the pastry cases making sure that all the fruit is nice and moist. However that you don’t want a ‘pool’ of liquid on the bottom of the pie so you will have some liquid left in your jar.
Bake as per pastry instructions (usually 180-190 *C) until golden brown (12-18 minutes). Cool in tins for a few minutes before removing them. Don’t lave them too cool completely in the tins or you’ll never get them out (the sugar/alcohol sets like a rock).
Dust with icing sugar and serve!
Great Grandmas’ Exact Recipe
1 c sultanas
1 cup raisins
1 cup currants
1 cup suet, grated
1 apple, finely diced
zest and juice of an orange
zest and juice of a lemon
1/2 cup candied peel
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp nutmeg
1 c brown sugar
Brandy or rum to mix
Finely chop all ingredients, nothing should be bigger than a currant. Mix well and seal in sterilised jars.