My mother only made mincemeat pies at Thanksgiving. She used mincemeat from a jar but there wasn’t any meat in it.
Originally, mincemeat WAS made with meat and included spices, dried fruit and spirits (alcohol). That way, mincemeat could be preserved for many years. I’ve never seen mincemeat in stores with any meat in it, but it’s probably sold somewhere.
RECIPES FROM 1800s COOKBOOKS
MINCE MEAT PIES
These pies are always made with covers and should be eaten warm. If baked the day before, heat them on the stove or before the fire. Mincemeat made early in the winter and packed close in stone jars will keep till spring if it has a sufficiency of spice and liquor. Whenever you take out any for use, pour some additional liquor into the jar and add some more sugar before you cover it again. No mincemeat, however, will keep well unless all the ingredients are of the best quality. The meat should always be boiled the day before you want to chop it. For pie, cover the bottom of a pan with paste,* put in a sufficiency of mincemeat and lay on it a lid of paste to completely cover, notching the edges tightly together. Cut a slit in the top before baking.
*paste is pie crust
TO MAKE MINCEMEAT FOR PIES
Boil either calves or hogs’ feet till perfectly tender and rub them through a colander. When cold, pass them through again, and it will come out like pearl barley. Take one quart of this, one of chopped apples, the same of currants, washed and picked, raisins stoned* and cut, a cup of good brown sugar, some suet nicely chopped, some cider, and a pint of brandy. Add a teaspoon of pounded mace, one of cloves, and one of nutmeg and mix all these together thoroughly. When the pies are to be made, take out as much of this mixture as may be necessary. To each quart of it, add a teaspoon of pounded black pepper and one of salt. This greatly improves the flavor and can be better mixed with a small portion than with the whole mass.
*stoned – raisins were sold with the seeds (stones) still in them
MINCE PIES NOT SO RICH
Take four pounds of beef after it has been boiled and chopped, one of suet, two of sugar, two of raisins, and four of chopped apples. Mix these together with a pint of wine and a pint of cider to make it thin enough, and season to your taste with mace, nutmeg and orange peel. If it is not sweet enough, put in more sugar. Where persons are not fond of suet, use butter instead, and stew the apples instead of using so much cider.
VERY PLAIN MINCE MEAT
Take a piece of fresh beef consisting of about two pounds of lean and one pound of fat. Boil it and when it is quite cold, chop it fine. Pare and core some fine juicy apples, cut them in pieces, weigh three pounds, and chop them. Add four pounds of raisins and chop them also. Add a large tablespoon of powdered cloves and the same quantity of powdered cinnamon, and a pound of brown sugar. Mix all thoroughly, moistening it with a quart of sweet cider. You may also add the grated peel and the juice of an orange. This mincemeat will do very well for children or for family use, but is too plain to be set before a guest. Neither will it keep so long as that which is richer and more highly seasoned. It is best to make no more of it at once than you have immediate occasion for.
MINCE PIES WITHOUT MEAT
Pare, core, and mince six pounds of apples. Shred three pounds of fresh suet,* and stone three pounds of raisins minced. Add to these, a quarter of an ounce each of mace and cinnamon, and eight cloves, all finely powdered. Then three pounds of the finest powder sugar, three quarters of an ounce of salt, the rinds of four and the juice of two lemons, half a pint of port, and half a pint of brandy. Mix well together, and put the ingredients into a deep pan. Prepare four pounds of currants, well washed and dried, and add them to the top when the pies are made, with some candied fruit.
* suet – the raw fat of beef or mutton, so technically it’s not meat.
You can use mincemeat for recipes other than pies. Here’s a recipe for mincemeat cookies from Epicurious.com.
Do you make mincemeat pies for Thanksgiving or Christmas? Have you ever made your own mincemeat?