With the glut of cooking apples all around there is no better time to get making some mincemeat. 'Oh I just buy my pies in Tesco Rosie' you cry - 'no need for mincemeat - all that faffing about, I don't have the time.'
If this is how you feel, I would urge you to think again. Home made mincemeat is nothing like shop bought and it also keeps for at least two years once made so you don't even have to make it every year! I like the tradition of it though, children back to school, everything settles down and then you can get the mincemeat made first, before the Christmas cake and the Christmas pudding. There, I've said it. Christmas. It won't happen again.
(It is, actually, the perfect thing to make with the children during half term and then they can help with making the mince pies when they finish school at Chmn*h@lh )
If you don't like the dark unctiousness of the traditional mincemeat Pam Corbin has a very different but delicious recipe for a mincemeat based on plums. This is a two day process, mix one day, cook the next.
PLUM & RUSSET MINCEMEAT
Makes 4 x 450g jars
I kg plums
Finely grated zest and juice of 2-3 oranges
500g russet apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1 cm cubes
100g orange marmalade
250g demerara sugar
half tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp grated nutmeg
50ml ginger wine or cordial
100g chopped walnuts
50ml brandy or sloe gin
Wash, halve, and stone the plums and put into a saucepan with the orange juice. Cook until tender then blend in a liquidiser until smooth or push through a sieve. You should have around 700ml of puree.
Put into a large bowl and add all of the other ingredients except the brandy. Mix together then cover and stand for 12 hours.
Preheat your oven to 130 deg C, put the mincemeat into a heatproof baking dish, and bake uncovered for 2 - 21/2 hours. Stir in the brandy or gin then pot up into warmed, sterilised *jars. Remove any air pockets with a knife or skewer, then seal immediately.
Store in a cool, dark place until Christmas and then use within one year.
* I like the 12oz Oval jars for mincemeat - they look pretty if I want to give some as a gift - or the Dodec is very smart as well.