Monday, September 17, 2012

Fruit Mince

Fruit mince is excellent in Christmas mince pies, and a delicious addition to apple tarts, as stuffing for whole baked apples or mixed into cake and pudding batters for a fruity, spicy variation.

I have read some ridiculous stuff online about fruit mince/mould/food safety etc including steeping fruit in melted fat, cooking it, not using too many apples etc. 

Fruit mince is old fashioned preserve, is uncooked and if made properly looks after itself improving with age. I discussed risks etc with NZ food safety re preserves made in this manner and they have no concerns.And bloke said several colleagues happily eat fruit mince several years old as tastes so much better than freshly made - like wine.
Both sugar and alcohol are natural preservatives, dried fruit is full of sugar (fructose) + extra sugar, and a good slosh of booze. 
Like jams, the only real risks are mould, which occurs if there is too much water present. The mould isn’t hazardous, and within reason can be scraped off; or fermentation, which in jams ruins the flavour; but as alcohol is already present in fruit mince is likely to enhance it. It should be able to be stored for a year or more provided it hasn’t gone mouldy. 

3 cooking apples – granny smiths are ideal
450 g currants
450 g raisins
450 g sultanas
450 g brown sugar
125 g glace cherries
125 g mixed peel
2 oranges juice and zest
2 lemons juice and zest
250 g shredded suet –see cooks tips
150 g chopped blanched almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ a nutmeg freshly grated
¾ cup brandy – extra for sampling when no one is looking

Approx 6-8 jars and lids – Place the jars in the oven and heat them to 120° for 15 minutes then leave them in the oven to cool. Place the lids in a small saucepan of water and simmer them gently for 5 minutes to sterilise them.

Cut the apples into quarters leaving the skins on, remove the cores and chop coarsely. Place the almonds and suet into the processor and pulse, so both are fine crumbs and turn into large bowl.
Place one third of the apple chunks in the processor with the raisins and process until minced, then turn them into the bowl, repeat using one third of the apples with the currants, and again with the sultanas. Then mince the cherries and mixed peel and add them to the bowl with all the other minced fruit. 

Add the brown sugar, zest and juice of the oranges and lemons and the spices. Reserve 3 tbsp of the brandy, and pour in the rest. Stir the mixture well so all the ingredients are well mixed.
With tongs remove one of the jars from the oven, pack it full of fruit mince, and run a long flexible knife down the insides of the jar to release any air pockets. Pack the jar right to the top, don’t leave any head space –as this will allow room for mould to grow.

Spoon a teaspoon or two of the reserved brandy over the top. Use tongs to take a lid from the hot water and screw it in place. Continue with all remaining jars and mixture. Wash and dry the filled jars and store in a cool dark place – the bottom of the pantry is ideal – the mince will be usable after one month but improves with age.
Cooks tips:  Suet is hard beef fat taken from around the kidneys. It’s inclusion in fruit mince is likely a holdover from the original medieval recipes for Mincemeat which included actual meat. The fat enriches the fruit and makes it glossy. 

Shredded suet is sold in supermarkets as Shreddo here in NZ, in a margarine type tub; it is often with the oils. Once opened it should be stored in the fridge. Butter can be substituted and some people make Vegetarian fruit mince using non animal fats or none at all but I have not tested these alternatives.


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  2. I have made a similar version for about 30 yrs & I substitute the suet for butter. It is a lovely fruit mince which keeps well & is very tasty.