There are a few things that signal Christmas is well and truly on its way. The air outside starts to get so cold you can’t feel your toes. The Christmas adverts are out in force. And the shops are piled high with mince pies and mulled wine! Hands up who’s already started on the mince pies? I can’t be the only one. Hands up who may have been eating mince pies since before Halloween? Ahem…you can’t blame a girl. I just love everything there is about mince pies. From the flaky butter pastry that crumbles all over your jumper and carpet, to the spicy fruit filled mincemeat that lurks inside. I like mine toasty hot and topped with a generous dollop of rum butter, slowly melting down the sides. How do you like yours? Cold with warm milk? Unadulterated and straight from the oven? No matter which way you eat them, you can’t get better then a homemade mince pie so fresh from the oven it burns your mouth.
This mincemeat recipe is like Christmas personified. It contains everything that makes me feel festive and merry: plump fresh plums, hand squeezed orange juice, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger, all topped of with a copious splash of rum. The smell alone is enough to melt any scrooges heart. This recipe is the most perfect balance of sweet fruit with delicate spice, chuck dried fruits meet silky plums, all brought together with a lovely boozy kick.
Our recipe starts off by making a thick sweet plum and orange puree. Halved and stoned plums get simmered with orange juice and zest till they become meltingly soft. Depending on how smooth you like your mincemeat, now’s the time to either breakout out your blender or grab a trusty potatoe masher. We blitz our plums to create a smooth crimson base for our mincemeat.
Next it’s as simple as pouring in the rest of our ingredients and coating everything in our lovely plum sauce. In goes our whisky marmalade, dried mixed fruits, chopped nutty russet apples and a healthy dash of sugar and spice. Give it all a mix and leave to infuse over night or at least for 12 hours.
The next morning it’s time to get our festive bake on! Split the mincemeat into two large baking dishes and cook on a low and slow heat to help bind all our flavors together and begin to breakdown our apples. We save adding the booze till later as we don’t want any of our precious alcohol to burn off during this process.
After a few hours the house starts to smell like Christmas time and we take our mincemeat out to cool. Throw over a very generous splash of rum and mix well. If you don’t like rum you can just substitute in your favorite brandy, whisky or bourbon. Any deep flavored spirit is perfect for this recipe.
The hardest part of this process is having the patience to let our gorgeous mincemeat mature and develop its deep depth of flavour, hidden away in some dark corner of the home. But after 5-6 weeks out comes the most gorgeous filling for our mincepies. But why stop there? How about mincemeat palmiers? Or stuffing some baked apples with mincemeat and a squeeze of lemon juice? Maybe bulk out an apple strudel filling with specks of mincemeat here and there? The possible uses for this little jar of wonder are endless.
Recipe makes four 450g jars, inspired by the amazing Pam the Jam
1kg plums, halved and stoned
5 russet apples, cored and diced into small cubes (about 1cm by 1cm)
Juice and zest of 3 oranges
600g mixed dried fruit such as raisins, currants, sultanas, cranberries
100g whisky marmalade
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Good grating of fresh nutmeg (about 1/2 of a whole nutmeg or a big pinch of dried)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
250g demerera sugar
100ml of brandy, rum or bourbon, plus extra for sealing the jars
1. Place the plums, orange juice and orange zest in a large pan and simmer for 15-20 mins until the fruit is soft and starting to break down. Transfer to a blender and blitz to a smooth paste. Or mash with a potatoe masher for a coarser texture.
2. Pour into a large bowl and add all the other ingredients, bar the booze, and stir well. Leave covered in the fridge for 12-18 hours to let the flavors infuse.
3. Pre-heat the over to 110C/225F. Split the mixture into two large baking dishes and pop in the oven for two and a half hours. After the time is up remove from the oven to cool. Pour over 50ml of your chosen booze into each of the dishes. Mix well.
4. Spoon the mixture into sterilised jars. Jars can be sterilised through pouring boiling water into them and then leaving to air dry, by placing them in a dish washer or through placing them in a hot oven and then carefully removing. Either way leave the jars to cool before filling. Spoon the mixture into the jars and pour a small amount of extra alcohol on top to create a seal and stop any air from reaching the mixture. This will help the mincemeat last longer. Leave in a cool, dark place for at least 6 weeks. Consume within one year.