I wish I could just bottle up the smell of mincemeat on the stove. It smells festive, warming and sweet, all at the same time! It would be like encapsulating the essence of Christmas. To get that smell again and again, I just tend to make mincemeat two or three times between mid-November and Christmas day.
I cannot stand raisins, so traditional mincemeat is out of the question. The mere thought of the brown sticky mixture filling most mince pies makes me feel sick. A few years ago, I decided to make my own mincemeat that would not be a raisin paste.
Cranberries seemed like the ideal substitute and I found a nice recipe by Nigella Lawson. I adapted it to end up with even less raisins and focus on flavours we really liked. It will be my third year making the recipe as described below, and I have made a fair few batches. As soon as we run out, I just have to make some more! Be warned: it is addictive!
- 3/4 cup dark brown muscovado sugar 100g
- 1/3 cup ruby port 80ml
- 3 cups cranberries 300g
- ½ cup currants 75g
- ½ cup raisins 75g
- ½ cup dried cranberries 75g
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 satsuma
- 2 tbsp . rum 30 ml
- ½ tsp vanilla extract 2ml
- 2 tbsp honey 50g
Mix the sugar and port in a large pan and place on a medium heat for a couple of minutes to dissolve the sugar.
Add the cranberries, dried fruit, spices as well as the grated zest and juice of the satsuma.
Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
In the meantime, start sterilising several jars. Wash both the jars and lids well in hot, soapy water. Rinse them well. Preheat your oven to gas mark 1 (135 degrees Celsius / 275 degrees Fahrenheit).
Squash any cranberries that have not broken down with the back of a wooden spoon. Most of the liquid should now have been absorbed by the dried fruit.
Remove from the heat and leave the mixture to cool down a little.
Place the jars upside down on a baking tray in the oven for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven using a clean tea towel to handle the jars. Sterilise the lids by immersing them in boiling water for a few minutes. Dry thoroughly.
Add the rum, vanilla extract and honey to the pan and stir well with a wooden spoon to mash the mixture down into a paste.
Spoon the mincemeat into the sterilised jars and store in the fridge once it is at room temperature. It will keep for several weeks in the fridge.
Here is a visual summary: