Christmas Mincemeat (no fat)

This makes a ton of mincemeat … not literally.  But you will need lots of large, sterilised jars before you start. Or save jam jars and give them as gifts – even if you give a jar on Christmas day it’s a great gift, because it’s even better next year!

I don’t really have a secret ingredient, but I do have a ‘secret’ method!

Ingredients

350g (12oz) soft brown sugar

450g (1lb) cooking apples (Bramleys are my favourite, and if you can’t get cookers, then hard eaters such as Granny Smiths work fine) – peeled, cored and finely chopped or grated

1.5 kgs dried, mixed fruit  (either buy ready-mixed or make your own – guidelines below)

1tsp Ground Allspice

1tsp Ground Nutmeg

1tsp Ground Cinnamon

2 Lemons, including the grated zest and juice

Chopped almonds if desired – about a cup, or to taste.

Option:

170ml (6fl oz) alcohol e.g. brandy.  (I use whatever liqueur or spirit is in the cupboard or needs using up. Cointreau one year was very nice, I’ve used rum, kirsch and once even a freebie mini bottle of Jaegermeister!)

OR 

170ml extra of apple or other fruit juice

Method

Place all ingredients, including the alcohol in a large bowl, mix well to combine.

Cover well and allow to stand overnight.

My Secret Method: Using a traditional mincer, or a food processor, lightly mince the mixture.  USE CAUTION!

I use a Magimix with the double blade in. Process in 3-5 second blasts, stirring the mixture in between so as to ensure an even ‘mincing’ action.  You don’t want mush, just slightly chopped fruit.

Why mince? I just like it that way, and I get comments about my mincemeat every year. I swear it’s this simple addition to the method that a) helps to meld the flavours b)means that the mince sits better in the pies and c)the whole pie holds together better – no fallen sultanas!

Pack mixture into sterilised jars, ensuring you leave a couple of centimetres of space at the top of each jar for the mixture to expand. I learnt this the hard way – oozing jars at the back of the cupboard in April!

Close jars tightly (though if you are planning on using it all up this year, a tupperware container is fine – you might want to put it in the ‘fridge if you’re in a hot country).

Ideally you leave the mixture in the refridgerator for 4 to 6 weeks to settle and mingle before using, but I’ve used it straight from the bowl.  I guess it just gets even better with age.

Stir well before using.

Tip for stored mincemeat

If you’ve got mincemeat from last year, a week or sobefore you want to use it open the jar and give it a good stir. If it loks a bit dry, dribble over a bit more juice or alcohol and stir it in. Reseal the jar and it’ll be good as gold when you’re ready to bake

Mix-your-own-fruit guidelines

680g (1lb 8oz) Dried Currants

340g (12oz) Sultanas

340g (12oz) Raisins

170g (6oz) Mixed Peel, chopped

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