The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Fun with mincemeat

Breadandwine's picture

Fun with mincemeat

Found a large tub of mincemeat in the care home I teach in on Thursday mornings - so, using this in varying ways, we made a selection of different breads:

Chelsea buns, German apple cake, Bialys, doughnuts (baked, of course), Swedish tea ring, large tart.

This is a much under-used ingredient, generally only used at Christmas, but it is very tasty - and always welcome in our house!

Here's the story and pics (you might have to scroll down to Thursday, 23rd August):

Cheers, Paul

dabrownman's picture

and make my own since the store bought stuff is just plain terrible, doesn't even have meat in it and you can only get it at the holidays. The rest of the folks in the family don't like it much. My mother made great mince pie and it was mine and my dads's favorite pie she made - got me hooked on it.

This past holiday season I put it in rugelach and everyone said that it was terrific - first variety to disappear. I didn't have the heart to tell them what it was. Still have a large jar in the freezer too.

Glad to see another mince meat lover posting about it.

Breadandwine's picture

Hi DA!

Don't know why I haven't thought of making my own mincemeat before now - after all, I make my own marmalade and pasta, etc.

(I'm intrigued by your comment that the bought stuff doesn't even have meat in it??!!??)

And, of course, I'll have to make rugelach (now I've googled it and found out what it is!). 

Watch this space! Don't suppose we could have your mincemeat recipe, could we?

Cheers, Paul

dabrownman's picture

I've got two or three in my cookbook - one wthout meat.  But I will give you the one with meat in it that I like the best.  Appaling that something called mince meat doesn't even have it there anymore. My Granny is turning over in her grave.

Homemade Mince Meat


2 pound sbeef - I use shank - but you can use venison or elk which is really tasty
2 1/4 C suet, finely chopped or grated*
3 1/4 C chopped tart apples
1 1/2 C liquid (liquid from meat of your choice it was cooked in)
2 1/2 C granulated sugar

2 T honey
1 1/2 C apple cider – hard is OK
1/2 C molasses
1/4 C cider vinegar
 1 1/2 cups raisins

1/2 C dried cranberries

1 T fresh minced ginger
1 T ground cinnamon
1/2 T ground cloves
1 T ground allspice
1 T ground nutmeg
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Zest and juuice  of 1 orange
1/2  C  brandy or sherry (I prefer Brandy)

*Suet is firm beef fat. You need to ask your butcher for this.


 Trim fat from meat of your choice.

 In a large heavy pan over medium heat, place meat; cover with water and simmer until the meat is tender. Remove from heat and refrigerate meat in the cooking liquid overnight.

 Remove from refrigerator and remove meat from liquid. Remove all fat from top of liquid; reserve liquid. Separate meat from bones, discard bones. Chop cooked meat into small cubes.

 In a large pot, combine meat cubes, suet, apples, reserved liquid, sugar, apple cider, molasses, cider vinegar, raisins, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, lemon juice, and orange juice; simmer for 2 hours.

 Remove from heat and let cool.  Add brandy or sherry and mix together.  Let it sit in the fridge to get to know each other well a couple of days.

 Refrigerate, freeze or pack in hot sterile jars and seal.  I freeze.

Enjoy this real old recipe.

Cob's picture

As someone who adores no-frills modern supermarket mincemeat (was weaned on the stuff) that above recipe, is making me queasy. 

Suet, yes please. Shank. Tagine, anyone?

I actually think homemade mincemeat is 1. not very good (or is it just mine?) and, 2. not worth making (in terms of economy). I actually think buying a jar and adding booze, luxury nuts and homemade candied fruit is enough to make it extra special.

But I've yet to try the above recipe, so who am I to judge?

Mincemeat is the jam of the devils, and all year round makes it less appreciated. Still, that's never stopped me! Love it with bread, and in steamed puddings. Also as a sub. for eccles cakes.

Have you tried it in a fruit cake? Make's the juiciest thing ever. I can personally rate this:

Please share this doughnut recipe! Is it anything like oliebollen? (Which I've never attempted...)

And anyone know a good biscuit recipe with mincemeat? That is, hard-baked biscuit for a cup of tea, not a US scone or cookie bound with egg. But a yummy, short, crumbly, butter-rich fruit biccie?





dabrownman's picture

mince meat in the states has water and HFCS as the first 2 ingredients ....and beef is the last one if it has any beef in it at all.  Just horrible stuff and nothing like the real thing at all.   They may have better stuff in UK groceries.

Historically, mince meat was made with beef that was just about to go off and the toughest parts to boot.  The long cooking softened it up some and killed what was growing on it and making it smell funny.  The spices covered the smell somewhat and the sugar and hooch preserved it to some degree or another.

Not making your own mince meat because of economy is sort of like not making your own whole grain bread because you can get a loaf of 100% whole grain 1 11/2 pound loaf at the grocery for 99 cents on sale!  Not quite the same thing - right?

Nuts in MM is a not allowed either  :-)  They belong in fruit cakes though and the fruit cake recipe you pointed too sounds great with mince meat in it and nuts but I would use walnuts not almonds and there would be enough alcohol in it so it would keep longer than a week .....since you put more hooch on it every week for a few weeks :-)  Fruit cake should never have a 'best if used by date' on it :-)

Since you love mine meat like me, once you make your own, you won't eat that store bought stuff they call MM.

Happy baking Cob

Cob's picture

Good point re. economy, I will retract it graciously. I just like bought stuff. And in terms of bread, yes, my bread is better than anything bought (now, with more experience that is, maybe not at the start when things were hiccup, bad.)

HFCS, you've lost me! I would send you some, bought mincemeat is the business. And water as the first ingredient, yes, that sounds dodgy!

And you mistake me, I have made my own. That's what I mean, it was bad. Too boozy and not tart and yummy like the supermarket stuff. Of course, it can be good, that's not what I'm saying. It's just I'd not use all my best ingredients when I can buy it cheaper, and tastier. Out of season, my favoruite mincemeat can be bought for 3p per pound! (That was a super bargain find :)

Still, someone must have a biscuit recipe! And as for these doughnuts, are these filled with mincemeat or incorporated into the dough?

Now that I think about it, they would be nice in rum babas.

dabrownman's picture

is high fructose corn syrup.  If I could buy mince meat for 3 pence a pound, about 5 cents US, i would never ever make it again either.  I buy it for half price right after Thanksgiving here.  The regular price is $7.49 for a 27 oz jar or $4.44 a pound!  I like to mix  it with what ever of my home made is left over so at least it has some meat in it.   My recipe isn't very boozy since most folks don't like it.  I just noticed that the Borden brand 'None Such' also has more salt than meat in it too !

My usual rule fo thumb is that I can make something at least twice as good for half the price at home.  But bread and mince meat are exceptions.  I can't make 1 1/2 loaf of 100% whole wheat for 99 cents and i cant make a pound of mince meat for $2.22 a poind on sale either.


Cob's picture

I can see your mincemeat is quite syrupy. Robertson's, the top brand, is thick and to be spooned out of the jar. It's 100% vegetarian: uses veg suet. (Nobody likes real suet according to modern tastes). Comparing the recipes, they're similar, except for your high water content and the use of suet.

It's such a shame when xmas time comes, I don't crave it. So often do I bake with it, it's no longer special. Oh well, rather have it than not.


dabrownman's picture

mince meat is thick as all get out since they use a ton of corn starch to thicken it up to a paste like consultancy.   When the leading ingredient is water, they need a lot of corn starch :-)  The jar I have has been sitting for very long time and some liquid might have come to the top.  I figure it will get better as it ages in the bottle like a red wine :-)

The store bought doesn't have any suet in it all and very little beef - an insignificant amount that they put in just so they can still legally call it mince meat.  It is nearly vegetarian even though there isn't any veggies in it except for the corn syrup and corn starch,  I've never even heard of veggie suet but vegiitartians must be crazy about it.  Folks sure are trying to cut down the fat in their diets today as you say,not everyone though, even though there is way, way more fat in hamburgers, sausages and hot dogs per pound than my homemade mince meat.

Vegetarian mince meat isn't mince meat any more than gluten free bread is whole wheat bread but at least the veggie mince meat is better for you from a health perspective as is the GF bread if comparing to white store bought bread.  I'm definitely making some fruit cake out of the jarred MM  - with brandy or bourbon of course - thanks fir the link :-)

happy baking.

Cob's picture


I'm no expert. I too, always assumed mincemeat was made with meat. But apparently not, according to Dan Lepard:

It's interesting and logical how, according to him, people (during xmas) 'felt that there was enough slaughtering of animals during the season without adding it (meat) to mincemeat as well, and others that just didn’t have it to spare, so keeping mincemeat vegetarian today still fits well with tradition.'

He has a recipe in his Short and Sweet for Tripe and Suet mincemeat similar to yours. If I ever get my hands on tripe, I'd give it a go.

Happy fruit-caking!

dabrownman's picture

Dan Lepard who sicked his lawyer on a TFL member for posting one of his recipes that was published in the Guardian? The lawyer who claimed he was protecting Dan's copy right on his unique recipe? Even when the recipe was a very common one that was quite old and even a 1995 bread machine maker included a near identical one in their bread machine recipes sold with each unit?  Your source is very wrong as usual!  I have learned to check and verify everything this guy claims and you should too.

Everything you ever wanted to know about mincemeat  Check out the 16th century and the 19th century recipes they list  It is only several hundred years later that meat had been omitted -say around 1700 or so.  In the old days, 1400's, all mince,met had meat in it. Otherwise it would have never ever been called mincemeat in the first place - as it is even to this day.

Happy mincing.


pmccool's picture

Mom used to can mincemeat back in the 60's and 70's and it had copious amounts of both meat and suet in it.


dabrownman's picture

I call mine 'Sweet and Fruity Heart Attack Pie" :-) It sure is good though Paul.

pmccool's picture

Although it tastes good to me, once or twice a year is about as often as I want it.


Cob's picture

I'm not sure what you're referring to in regards this incident at the TFL, but whatever it is, he's a baker, he has a business, he's permitted to protect 'his' published works whether they're adapted or nicked. I'm not in the business of questioning his sources, nor am I looking for anything unique. I look for 'his' recipes. If I wanted an old one, I'd refer to my only 'old' references at hand: E.Acton and Mrs Beeton, neither that old.

Besides, I linked it for interest as someone who says otherwise. I'm not sure what you mean by 'as usual': I'm not in the habit of linking something as verified, after all this is the net, not a library/MSS. archive. I take it you've some beef with DL. Erm, not my beef.

Linking Wiki does not inspire confidence. Interest, sure.

Even if mincemeat originally did/did not have mincemeat, surely the issue here is whether there's legitimacy for calling modern mincemeat its given name? It can't after all, seek DOP status. Mincemeat-ish has always has a certain ring.

Happy mincing to all you proper mincers. :)

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman  I can send you a dozen more that clearly say there was meat in mincemeat.  It is sad that people where mincemeat was born can't get any real mince meat.  Pretty soon we won'tt be able to buy any here either.

I think folks should be able to protect their intellectual property any way they want if it is stolen and legal to do so.  But, when they sell a recipe to the Guardian's online newspaper for publication to the general population on the Internet they have lost control of their property completely and have been compensated for that fact.  If a TFL'er sees it, bakes it and tells the community how good it is with a glowing report and puts the now pubic domain recipe in his post only to have a lawyer all over him for doing it - i find very odd indeed and makes me wonder what else could really be wrong with this author.  I have no idea what he is like in person and could care less, but his lawyer was way out of line in picking on a poor TFL'er when the guy was just trying to help Dan with some positive publicity about his recipe.  I named the Chacon after him for helping me with the initial folding and having to put up with a ...........

I think they call this really bad form in the UK.

Breadandwine's picture

For bringing this old thread up. I've been reminded that I didn't thank dabrownman for the mincemeat recipe - so thanks, DAB!

However, since I'm a vegan - and because meat in mincemeat seems so wrong to anyone from GB - the recipe is only of interest, I'm afraid.

We're so accustomed, over here, to having meatless mincemeat, that seeing a recipe containing actual meat comes as a shock!

Comparing that store-bought list of ingredients, to the one I have here in my kitchen is like comparing chalk and cheese.

I won't list all the ingredients, but mine begins:

Vine fruits (36%)

Apples (16%)

Then comes several different types of sucrose - but at least it contains over 50% fruit.

Even though the supermarket stuff is pretty tasty, I shall still have to have a go at making my own - the bought stuff all seems to have palm oil in it, and I'm trying to avoid that.

If and when I make it - probably towards Christmas (coming faster than we realise!) - I'll come back on here to report. My grandchildren will be bound to find another use for it in bread before then, so I'll report back on that as well.

Best wishes you guys! 


dabrownman's picture

have some good mincemeat to buy in the stores in the UK- even if vegetarian.  With mince meat traditions shifting so long ago in Britain away from beef in mincemeat, I can see where even foodies like yourselves and Dan Lepard don't know where the name came from long ago and that it contained real meat.  With the high price of meat in general in the UK, especially beef, I can see why they dropped it out since it would be too expensive to put in a pie otherwise.      Even here, there isn't enough meat in the jarred stuff to make any difference.  With beef making up half the mix it tastes  totally different.

Now if you tell me they don't put meat in meat pies in the UK anymore I'm never coming back to visit!

Happy baking veggiie mincemeat pie B&W

Cob's picture

Hey, I'm new so I know nothing about this incident. I won't judge because I'm no judge, and it can be a terrible flaw of mine.

I sit on the fence :). I'm sure both parties had their right to be pissed off. Were I this poster, I'd be infuriated, but were I DL, I'd feel like this guy should have asked for permission. (The lawyer part is only the right course of action. Would the poster have preferred DL turning up at his door with a baseball bat in hand?) You must remember recipes/articles (at his level of 'fame') are syndicated, others can only reprint with his permission. Otherwise, why not publish for free? What's the point of copyright?

We are all going round in circles! 


And you can rest assured, meat pie usually means a meated pie (by law, it may be a pretty drab figure though! Our sausages are mainly rusk....). You'd love it here, especially with the European horse meat scandal. :) Moooo. Oh, you'd definitely love our mincemeat. You could take it home and jazz it up with some beef shank. Far more economical. But I bet you would not notice (unless meated mincemeat retains a special meaty flavour?).