Now, don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand the commercial run up to Christmas, which seems to start in about July in some places. I think that all the Christmas stuff should start in December, so that we don’t all get Christmas fatigue by the time schools start back. However, there are a few things that you need to get ready in advance, and homemade mincemeat is one of them, as it needs time to develop and for the flavours to meld.
At a small food fair last weekend, we picked up a bumper load of pears for next to nothing. I poached some, while they were still firm, but there were too many to eat like this, or to have as a fruit on their own. We also had cakes, compote and so on, but what I really wanted to make with them was the Pear and Ginger Mincemeat that I had seen in Pam Corbin’s Preserves book.
I have been making my own mincemeat for a few years now, if only to prove that I can. Here in the Netherlands, it becomes necessary if you don’t want to add it t o the list of Stuff Visitors Have To Bring You. Our list is long enough, with English mustard, Pimms, Salad Cream, veggie suet and so on. The Big Guy also asks for Brown Sauce, despite being Swedish. I think he has assimilated.
This mincemeat ticks a load of boxes for me, since I love pears, I really love ginger, and we regularly host a Mince Pie and Mulled Wine each Christmas, and you can’t have that without sweet mincemeat.
I made a couple of amendments to Pam’s recipe. I have not yet seen cooking apples in the Netherlands, so I only used eaters, but I took half of them and stewed them until they were quite liquid. I think it needs to have some more liquid contents, as this mincemeat does not use suet (which I always substitute with vegetable suet, so that any veggie or vegan friends can also have some), so the stewing will prevent you having dry mince pies.
Secondly, instead of all of the sultanas and raisins she suggests, I added half sultanas and half dried cranberries. There is something great about dried cranberries, and they are traditional Christmas fare, albeit not in the sweet courses!
I also made my own candied peel – much nicer than the tacky shop bought stuff.
I cannot recommend enough trying this version for yourself. Just look how great it looks, and the smell is something else. I could not resist trying a teaspoon, and trust me, this is the best mincemeat ever, even before the flavours have had time to meld and develop.