My usual recipe for fruit mince is not a really a recipe at all, as I don’t measure any of the ingredients. I combine mixed dried fruit, grated apple, a little butter, brown sugar, a dollop of marmalade, some diced, home-made candied peel, and mixed spice in a saucepan and gently bring to the boil. I then remove the fruit mince from the heat, add a good slosh of brandy, and leave, covered, overnight, before bottling in sterilised jars. I always make my fruit mince in autumn when apples are at their best, so it is very well macerated indeed by Christmas time.
This year I broke with tradition and tried the intriguing wartime recipe for ‘plum and russet mincemeat’ in Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall‘s The Ministry of Food: Thrifty Wartime Ways to Feed Your Family Today.
Jane says that the recipe was sent to The Farmer’s Weekly by Miss Williams of Durham Field Farms, Shotley Bridge, Durham during the Second World War. The recipe has no added fat, an important consideration in wartime when fats were rationed.
While Miss Williams’ recipe is baked in the oven, I prepared mine on the stove top. I substituted grated, peeled Pink Lady apples for the russets, used home-made bottled plums I prepared last summer, and used almonds instead of the walnuts. I also used brown sugar instead of Demerara sugar, which isn’t easily available in Australia.
The result is a lovely, light fruit mince with almost a mulled wine flavour. This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.
- 1kg plums
- Finely grated zest and juice of 2-3 oranges (you need 200ml)
- 500g russet apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1cm cubes
- 200g currants
- 200g raisins
- 200g sultanas
- 100g orange marmalade
- 250g Demerara sugar
- ½ teaspoons ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- ½ nutmeg, grated (or 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
- 100g chopped walnuts
- 50ml ginger wine or cordial (optional)
- 50ml brandy or sloe gin – or 100 ml if no ginger wine
- Wash the plums, halve and remove the stones, then cook gently with orange juice until tender (about 15 minutes).
- Blend to a puree in a food processor or push through a sieve. You should end up with about 700 ml purée.
- Put the purée 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 or over night.
- Preheat the oven to 120 degrees C fan-forced.
- Put the mincemeat in a large baking dish and bake uncovered for 2-2½ hours.
- Stir in the brandy and/or gin and 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.