Mon, Nov 29 2010
Christmas is a magical time of the year, not only for the spirit of the season but also the food and fun. Preparing for it is half of the fun and increases the anticipation somewhat! I have just made my mincemeat in readiness and what I love about it is that a seed of an idea can be recreated into a flavourful creation without a recipe. Just an idea of perfect friendship and balance can end up in jars of home-made heaven. It is great for gifts too, just a tag, no need for wrapping, the contents is beautiful and speaks for itself.
From as early as the fifteenth century, mincemeat has been made. But traditionally it would have been with meat. Nowadays, just the beef suet remains of this relic of our past cookery. Meat and fruit were popular during Medieval times and spices too, with spices being used by the rich to show wealth, hence these flavours being turned into a pie. Our tastes have come a fair distance in some respects but still we turn our backs on fusion food and look to our past.
The kind of ingredients I like to add to my mincemeat are dried cranberries, cherries and perhaps even blueberries. Fresh fruit will ferment so the idea of gently cooking the mincemeat for a couple of hours is a good one. So to get you on your way, dig around in your cupboard and bring out all of your dried fruits. Pick the ones you would like to combine then add into a large bowl in what ever ratio you like. Nuts are good too, so choose those if you like. Add some suet, beef or vegetable around 1 to 5. Lemon and orange zest and juice are good, then sugar to taste. Light brown or Light muscovado work well. Lastly, add some spice. Mixed will do but invest in a good one. I bought some from an amazing stall in Borough Market not too long ago. The difference was astounding. Fragrant and heady. Macerate for a day then warm in a low oven for 2 hours. This will melt the suet and coat everything, stopping the mincemeats need to run away out of the jar. pack whilst still warm into warm sterilised jars, seal, then sit back and enjoy the moment!