Traditional Mincemeat

Ann M. Evans

This is my modification of an old English recipe from the booklet, “Country Preserves” by Carol Wilson. I found the recipe made two and one half quarts of mincemeat. It is best made one to three months before using, to allow the flavors to develop. I make my own peel. If you buy peel, buy the whole peel and chop it rather than the already chopped peel.

The Ingredients:

1 pound cooking apples, cored and chopped, but unpeeled

8 ounces shredded suet

12 ounces raisins

8 ounces currants

8 ounces sultanas

4 ounces candied orange peel (see recipe below)

4 ounces candied lemon peel (see recipe below)

4 ounces slivered (or chopped) almonds

Grated zest and juice of one lemon

12 ounces soft dark brown sugar

2 heaped teaspoons allspice, freshly ground

One half teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground

One half teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground

One half teaspoon dry ginger, freshly ground

7 tablespoons brandy

Putting It Together:

Mix all the ingredients, except the brandy, in a large bowl, stirring well until thoroughly combined. Cover the bowl and leave overnight for the flavors to blend. Next day, stir the ingredients well, place into baking pan and cover with foil. Place in a very cool oven, 225 degrees, for 3 hours. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, stirring occasionally until all the ingredients are coated in the melted suet. When the mixture is completely cold, stir in the brandy. Pack into jars and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Candied Orange or Lemon Peel

From the Davis Farmers Market Cookbook, by Ann M. Evans

The last of the Valencia oranges are a good choice as they most resemble the bitter Seville oranges probably used in the original recipe in England. Navel oranges will be ok if you don’t have Valencia.  Lisbon or Eureka lemons are a better choice than Meyer lemon as the Meyer lemon peel is too thin. You can make these well ahead of time. Using this recipe, and doubling the above for mincemeat, you’ll have about one quarter pound of each set of peels remaining. Try using that in a Christmas Cake/fruit cake instead of purchased candied fruits.

The Ingredients:

3 lemons or oranges

3 quarts and 2 cups water

One and a half cups granulated sugar

Putting It Together:

Cut a thin slice from the top and the bottom of each fruit. Cut through the outer skin to the fruit inside, spacing the cuts about one inch apart. Peel the citrus. If you are using the peel for presentation as a candy verses chopping the peel, cut each of the peel sections lengthwise into long strips one-quarter inch wide, otherwise the wide strips are fine and easier to work with. Reserve the fruit for another use. Pour the water into a saucepan and add the peel strips. Bring the 3 quarts water to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, until only an inch or so of water remains in the pan, about one hour. This liquid will be bitter and should not be used. Using a slotted utensil, remove the peels from the pan and set them aside in a bowl.

In a stainless-steel or other non reactive saucepan, combine the 2 cups water with one cup of the sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir the still-warm peels into the syrup. Let the peels stand for 6-7 hours at room temperature. Return the pan to low heat and cook the peels until they have absorbed all of the syrup, about 30 minutes. The peels will become translucent and amber. During the last stages of cooking, keep a close eye on the peels to prevent scorching or burning.

Remove the cooked peels from the pan and spread them in a single layer on a piece of aluminum foil or waxed paper. They will be very sticky and supple. Let the peels stand for about 12 hours to dry slightly.

The next day, roll the peels, one by one, in the remaining one half cup sugar. Leave them at room temperature for 2-3 hours to dry. Pack the candied peels into covered tins, boxes, or glass jars in layers separated by waxed paper. Store in a cook, dry place. The peels will keep for up to 2 months.