Fruity, spicy and warming, mincemeat is a sweet treat that is part of a long tradition of British food. Perfect in tarts, pies and puddings, it is a winter favourite but can be enjoyed all year round. Read on for mincemeat recipes that work at any time of year, whether you have leftovers or are starting afresh.
What is mincemeat?
For many of us, the idea (and smell and taste) of mincemeat is inseparable from memories of Christmas. It has all the luxury ingredients that long filled the gap in the festive menu when other fruit and sweetmeats were unavailable. It’s not hard to see why it has long been associated with Christmas and New Year.
- Leftover turkey recipes to ensure that you don’t get bored on the way to New Year.
So what is in your mincemeat? There’s dried vine fruits, sugar and sweet spices, perhaps grated apple or preserved citrus peels and maybe your favourite warming spirit, whether that’s port or brandy or sherry. Traditionally, there is some shredded suet too, though vegetable shortening is more common today.
This means that most mincemeat is suitable for vegans. Children and those who didn’t grow up eating it can nevertheless find the name confusing.
So where’s the beef?
Dating back to the late Medieval period, mincemeat originally did contain minced meat along with the fruit and spices. As recently as the mid-19th century, this tradition continued (and seems to have lasted longer in the US, as this intriguing article explains).
Few of us would find that appealing today, but the mincemeat we know is delicious in all sorts of desserts and treats.
Beyond the obvious mince pie (with cream, custard or brandy butter), it’s commonly used in an open mincemeat tart, a stuffed baked apple, or a strudel (with or without the addition of cooking apples).
I love mincemeat, so like to go further and get creative. I add my mincemeat to recipes for traybakes, confectionary, ice cream, pavlovas and so much more.
Leftover mincemeat doesn’t keep as long as jam, but it will last many months in the fridge before it goes off, and if unopened can survive from one Christmas to the next.
If your mincemeat has been hanging around for a while, check for crystallization of the sugar or a fusty smell from the fat before you start to cook. As long as you have avoided these, it should be fine.
Many of the recipes that follow use less than half a jar of mincemeat and are great for using up leftovers. The quantities tend to be flexible so you can work with what you’ve got.
Whether you’re looking for new ways with leftovers or set to open a fresh jar of wonderful spiced fruit filling, I am convinced you will love these fruity, spicy recipes.
All the best mincemeat recipes
Read on for my favourite mincemeat recipes. They are all easy to make and even easier to eat!
Baking with mincemeat
I love baking with mincemeat. Not just the classic shortcrust pies and open tarts but cakes and traybakes, to which a good jar of mincemeats brings sweet spicy fruitiness and plenty of moisture.
Here are a few possibilities that you may not have considered. They are great for using up leftovers after you’ve made all the mince pies. I hope you love them as much as I do.
Festive desserts with mincemeat
As I have already mentioned, in the UK mincemeat is heavily associated with the winter holidays. The warming spicy notes just scream Christmas to many of us.
In parts of North America, it is sometimes thought of as a Thanksgiving flavour. These desserts will grace any festive table, and are just as tasty at Thanksgiving or at any time of year.
Here are some uses for mincemeat you may not have considered. You should!