Mince pies are one of those holiday traditions that have changed over the years but continue to thrill many who can’t wait until these seasonal treats are once again in stock. Hubby and I are among those who make sure we have plenty on hand every year!
Mince pies were originally “mincemeat” pies where they were filled with meats such as chicken, partridge, pigeon, hare, capon, pheasant, rabbits, ox or lamb tongue, livers of the animals, and mutton meat mixed with fruits, peels, and sugar. It was also large and oblong in shape, resembling a baby’s cradle. They could also be baked and kept for as long as two months, according to Quaker Elizabeth Ellicott Lea in her book Domestic Cookery that was published in 1853. Over time, they became smaller… and round… and filled with fruits and other flavorings… but no meat. Who says there’s no such thing as evolution, at least as far as cooking is concerned!
You can make your own of course, but why? Hubby and I just stock up on Walkers Luxury Fruit Mince Tarts. We’re now finishing off last year’s supply and need to restock from the fresh supply coming in to stores. What’s the appeal? Their very traditional fruity and tangy filling. If you love raisins, you’ll love these. Try them hot or cold and served with clotted cream, custard, or ice cream.
But if you really want to do your own, start with one of these ready mixes:
- Robertson’s Mincemeat — A popular brand that is a ready mix mincemeat for baking your own pies. The name is misleading, since this product contains no meat. It contains sugar, fruits (apples, raisins, sultanas), candied mixed peel (corn syrup, orange peel, sugar, lemon peel, citric acid), palm oil, treacle, currants, sunflower oil, acetic acid, rice flour, spices, citric acid, ascorbic acid, and salt.
- Norfolk Manor Mincemeat — A great tasting mincemeat imported from England, and perfect for baking your own mince pies. This mincemeat filling is also perfect for making turnovers, adding to stuffing, or filling a crown roast of pork. Suitable for vegetarians, this mincemeat is a blend of dried fruits, candied citron, sugar, spices, and vegetable shortening.
If you do end up making your own mincemeat, you can make it a family event by following some traditions:
- Family members take turns stirring the mince mixture clockwise (to be like the Sun’s path thru the sky) while making a wish (this is an English custom). Stirring anti-clockwise is considered unlucky and may bring bad luck for the New Year.
- Have your children leave a mince pie or two out for “Father Christmas” (what we call “Santa Claus”) by the chimney for him to eat while dropping off those presents and filling those stockings.
- Share a mince pie or two on each of the twelve days of Christmas to bring your family good luck.
Want a meat version of this treat that is more like the original version? Try this recipe for Sunnyside Mincemeat Pie.
Whatever your choice, have a jolly mince time!
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