I always find myself in November panicking about making the fruit mince for the Christmas staple – mince pies. Perhaps because now I try not to think about Christmas too much at all.
We both have families that treat Christmas as a big deal, making it a few days of family, food and fun; but they are 3000 miles away. In December 3000 miles is a lot further than it is the rest of the year!
But I really love mince pies, and there are other interesting things that can be made with any excess fruit mince like chocolate mince squares, so I have to pull myself together and get prepared.
This year I am also planning on having ago at a traditional ‘meaty’ mince meat, but that is a task for another day.
The origins of the mince pie lie in the medieval chewet (also spelled chewette), which was a fried or baked pastry containing chopped liver or other meat mixed with boiled egg yolks, dried fruit, and spices.
By the 16th century mince or “shred” pie was considered a Christmas speciality, although in the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell made the eating of mince pies on Christmas Day illegal. (This law was voted fourth “most ridiculous British law” in a 2007 poll.) In the mid-17th century the liver and chopped meat were replaced by suet, and by the 19th century meat was no longer generally used in the “mince” in either Britain or North America. Though traditional suet pies are still made, they are no longer the dominant form. ~ from Wikipedia
I must admit I was rather curious about the ridiculous laws poll, so for a little Friday fun here are the top six ….
- It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament
- It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside-down
- In Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish store
- Mince pies cannot be eaten on Christmas Day
- In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and requires the use of your toilet, you must let them enter
- In the UK a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman’s helmet
- The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the King, and the tail of the Queen
- It is illegal not to tell the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing
- It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour
- In the city of York it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow
- 2 large green apples (about 440g / 14oz) peeled, cored & finely chopped
- 250g (8oz) packet suet mix
- 1 ½ cups (345g / 11oz) soft brown sugar
- 2 ⅓ cups (375g / 12oz) raisins
- 1 ½ cups (240g / 8oz) sultanas
- 1 ½ cups (225g / 7oz) currants
- ¾ cup (140g / 5oz) mixed peel
- 100g (3 ½ oz) slivered almonds, chopped
- 1 tbsp mixed spice
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp grated orange rind
- 1 tsp grated lemon rind
- 1 cup (250ml / 8 fl oz) orange juice
- ½ cup (125ml / 4 fl oz) lemon juice
- 150ml / 5 fl oz brandy
- Combine all the ingredients, with ½ cup (125ml / 4 fl oz) brandy in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly.
- Spoon into sterilized, warm jars. Use a skewer to remove air bubbles and to pack the mixture in firmly. Leave a 1 ½ cm space at the top of the jar. Wipe the jar clean. Spoon a little brandy over the surface of the mince and seal, label and date.
- Set aside for at least 3 weeks or up to 6 months.
This batch doesn’t have almonds in as there weren’t any in the cupboard. I have always used vegetable suet for my fruit mince, but I can not find that over here. I had one last box for this recipe but now the cupboard is bare. Hopefully we will be able to find a source here, or get some sent over!
This post is part of Fight Back Friday, why don’t you head over and check out some of the other shared wisdom.