If you are looking for a fantastic ‘suet free’ mincemeat for Christmas, one that does not require even vegetable suet, then this recipe is one of the best. This can be made up just a day before using it in mince pies, but it can also be aged for up to 6 month. The cranberries and ruby port give this mincemeat a very holiday red colour, and a good depth of flavour – the orange juice and zest is also a complementary addition.
The only ingredient which is added, which can divide people’s opinion, is the crystallized stem ginger, which adds a little warmth and heat to the mincemeat. You either like crystallised stem ginger or you do not, I personally think it adds something to the mincemeat. If you do add it (which I recommend) then make sure you chop it up very small and mix it in thoroughly so there are no clumps – note: the honey added can make things clump together.
If you wish you can add in a vegetable suet (200g) which will add a little more moisture to the mincemeat when baked and the flour and pectin (used in modern vegetable suet) will help thicken the filling during baking as well. However, this recipe is wheat free, and if used in wheat (gluten) free pastry it can be served to those with allergies to wheat / gluten etc.
These jars look great, bursting with colour and flavour and make great gifts in the holiday season. If you are making this up, with only a week or so to age, reduce the amount of alcohol.
- 200g cranberries (fresh or dried)
- 200g currants
- 200g raisins
- 200g sultanas
- 200g chopped walnuts
- 200g diced candied peel
- 50g crystallised stem ginger chopped small (optional)
- 150ml ruby port
- 60ml brandy
- 150g soft brown sugar (demerara)
- 2 small oranges, zest and juice
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
In a large saucepan pour in the ruby port and sugar and on a low heat dissolve the sugar into the port. Once dissolved add the fresh cranberries (if using dried cranberries you can add all the dried fruit in one go) and add the cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Stir and leave simmering gently for ten minutes.
After ten minutes on a gentle heat add in the orange zest and juice and add in the rest of the dried fruit. Simmer for another ten minutes, stirring and breaking the fresh cranberries down to a pulp with the back of a wooden spoon.
Once everything has simmered for a total of 20 minutes take the saucepan off the heat and add in the honey, chopped walnuts, finely chopped crystallised stem ginger (optional) and vanilla, stir and leave to completely cool. Once cold tip into a mixing bowl, add in the brandy and give everything a stir. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave overnight. The next day spoon the mincemeat into sterilized jars and seal. Best used within six months of storage, store in a cool, dark place.
[The full recipes for mincemeat, used in mince pies, are found in the following pages of this article]