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Apple, ginger and pear mincemeat

The term mincemeat originated in the fifteenth century, when chopped meat was preserved with a combination of dried fruit, sugar and aromatic spices. During the seventeenth century, beef or lamb suet replaced the meat and has been used ever since with vegetarian suet a more recent option. This recipe is a departure on several fronts: it uses fresh fruit as well as dried, and contains no suet. In fact, it contains very little fat (only the oil in the almonds). The result is light and fruity, but with all the rich, warm spiciness of a traditional mincemeat.


Wash the apples, core and chop, then put into a saucepan with the orange juice. Cook gently until soft. Blend to a puree in a liquidiser or push through a sieve. You should end up with about 700ml apple puree.

Put the puree into a large bowl and add all the other ingredients, except the brandy or gin. Mix thoroughly, then cover and leave to stand for 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 130°C/Gas Mark 1/2. Put the mincemeat in a large baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 2–2.5 hours. Stir in the brandy or gin, then spoon into warm, sterilised jars, making sure there aren't any air pockets. Seal and store in a dry, dark, cool place until Christmas.

Use within 12 months.

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Makes 4 x 450g jars

  • 1kg Bramley apples
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 2-3 oranges (you need 200ml juice)
  • 500g firm pears, peeled, cored and chopped into 1cm cubes
  • 200g currants
  • 150g raisins
  • 150g sultanas
  • 100g crystallised stem ginger
  • 100g orange marmalade
  • 250g demerara sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ nutmeg, grated
  • 50ml ginger wine or cordial (optional)
  • 100g chopped almonds
  • 50ml brandy or sloe gin

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Preserves Handbook