I love preparing for Christmas, especially on a cold, wet day in November. I never buy anything early, or put my decorations up in October, but there's nothing like the smell of dried fruit, alcohol and spices wafting through the house to give the illusion of warmth and cosiness in my drafty Victorian flat.
This particular recipe contains fresh fruit as well as dried which gives it an extra soft, yielding fruitiness. The original calls for pears so use these instead if you wish-as I remember from last year's mincemeat the fruit supplies more texture than actual flavour, you would be hard-pressed to tell whether it was apples or pears once cooked, so use whatever is more convenient. This recipe makes a gloriously generous amount that will keep you well supplied with mince pies through December; half it if you feel neccessary but remember if you've had one pie too many this concoction can also be used to stuff baked apples or roly-poly pudding, or even to make mince pie ice cream.
Adapted from the Guardian, November 2007
500g apples, peeled cored and chopped into 1cm cubes
1kg dried fruit (I used 200g sultanas, 200g raisins, 250g figs, 250g currants and 100g prunes)
Juice and grated zest of 2 oranges
100g chopped almonds
100g orange marmalade
250g soft brown sugar
100g finely chopped crystallised ginger (I make my own)
1/2tsp ground cloves
1/2 nutmeg, grated
2tsp ground ginger
100ml brandy, rum, whisky or sloe gin
1. Mix together all the ingredients except for the alcohol in a large bowl.
2. Cover with a plate and leave for 12 hours so that the dried fruit swells.
3. Spread the mincemeat out in the largest roasting dish you have and cover with foil.
4. Bake on the lowest possible heat for around 2 hours.
5. Mix in the alcohol, and pack immediately into clean warm jars and seal with lids.
6. Mature for at least a week, and eat within 12 months.
Read this post for more on sterilising jars. I either use recycled jam jars or le parfait jars.