Suitcases packed. Gifts ready to be wrapped. Calendars marked, and the date anxiously awaited..it's holiday season! No matter which continent you are at this very moment, one thing for sure, there is a vibrance in the air. Towering Christmas trees with tinsels in shopping malls, sparkly sprinkly neon lights that lit the roads and town, what is there not to like about this season?
Even though we don't celebrate Christmas per se, I am always excited for this time of the year, if it is purely for the sake of mince pies that made its re-appearance in all Christmas markets. But this is not England- and somehow it feels different eating warm mince pies with hot cocoa in the midst of sunny/rainy season with sleeveless on, instead of woolly jumpers. I never made mincemeat from scratch before, but with new resolution to stay healthier with most things homemade, this jar of goodness was done in surprisingly no time at all.
Those dried fruits are always in the panty, as I stock them every now and then every time I nip down the baking specialty shop. My version of mincemeat is not traditional as I did not include any vegetable suet let alone real beet suet-as first described in 16th century, neither does it contain alcohol due to our dietary/religious preference, but it still taste darn good! Only 1 tbsp of coconut sugar was added, though I made a mental note to probably omit the sugar altogether next time I make it as it is sweet enough from the concoction of raisins, currants, cherries, citrus peels, Bramley apple, prunes, dates and even figs!
The traditional mincemeat will require a maturation time, whereby the alcohol will be absorbed by the fruits. The longer it keeps, the more mature the flavour develops. For this recipe, I recommend that the preserve mincemeat, which is s=89ooaked in citrus juice and infused with spices, to be kept in the refrigerator for maximum 2 weeks. Feel free to use this as filling for mince pies, alcohol free Christmas puddings, plum cake, or even enjoy it as it is with Scottish oatcakes. They are delicious with morning oatmeal porridge too.
makes 3 medium sized jam jars
115 g sultanas
80 g currants
80 g chopped citrus peels
50g dried cherries
50g prunes- chopped
50g dried figs- chopped
1 Bramley apple- peeled and chopped finely
200mls fresh orange juice
1 lemon - zest and juice
1 tbsp cinnamon ( I like mine on spicier side-feel free to reduce)
1 tbsp coconut sugar (gula melaka): pls see note
1 tsp nutmeg powder
1 tsp all spice powder
3/4 tsp Kosher salt
Mix all the ingredients and juice in a large bowl. Keep in jam jars with lids close, in the refrigerator until ready to use. Keep well for 2 weeks.
Note: Coconut sugar is getting trendier for bakes nowadays, but essentially it is just raw sugar, better known as Gula Melaka in Asian pantry. If you don't find it, the best substitute is brown sugar or even normal sugar. As the mix is already sweet, I feel that a total omission of sugar is ok, as long as the mincemeat is used immediately, as sugar does act as preservative.