Don’t know about you but I’m really looking forward to Christmas and have started my baking already.  This recipe is simply the nicest mincemeat and doesn’t boil over when you bake it. It’s adapted from Rose Cousin’s “Cooking Without” recipe book for people avoiding gluten or dairy.  But I’ve been making it for years because I love it.  IN THE COMING WEEKS I WILL BE PUTTING UP MORE SPECIAL XMAS IDEAS – XMAS CAKES, GLUTEN-FREE PASTRY FOR YOUR MINCE PIES, CHESTNUT STUFFING AND MORE. WATCH THIS SPACE! Store this mincemeat in a sterile glass jar.  If you intend to store for more than a couple of weeks, allow the mincemeat to cool a little before adding a tablespoon of brandy/whiskey.   Mix well just before bottling in sterile glass jars.  You can sterilise jars by boiling the lids in water and heating the jars themselves to around 80C in the oven for 15 minutes.

The best, juiciest mincemeat ever - macerated with whiskey for several months...

When making your pastry:
For a slightly healthier alternative, use ½ organic wholemeal flour and ½ plain organic white flour. (Doves farm do a good fine- ground wholemeal flour from health shops).   If you have an intolerance/allergy to dairy products then you can use clarified butter to make the pastry.  Make this by very gently heating the butter, chill in a tall drinking glass or jug, then use only the solid part of the butter to make your pastry.  The remaining liquid part underneath contains the milk proteins – which is what you react to if you have a food intolerance or allergy.  Discard the liquid part.

450g peeled cored eating (not cooking) apples – bramleys or cox’s are lovely
225g  unsulphured sultanas
225g unsulphured raisins
110g  organic dried mixed peel (if you avoid citrus, use currants instead, or for a twist, chopped unsulphured apricots.  Organic avoids unwanted pesticides on peel)
Rind and juice of 1 organic orange (if avoiding citrus, use apple juice instead)
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
A little cloudy apple juice

1. Mix together all the ingredients in a large cooking pot with lid
2. Simmer very gently ½ hour

Bake pies 20-25 mins at 200C/400F until golden.
You can use an egg wash to stick the pastry tops on the pies.
Put a baking try over the next rack in the oven so the pies cook evenly through.

Why this is (somewhat) better for you:
While I’d love to say this is a health-giving recipe I can’t really because its very high in natural sugars.  Although it doesn’t contain refined sugar it IS very high in natural sugars from the dried fruit.  Eating a diet very high in even natural sugars doesn’t do your digestion, your skin, your mood or your heart much good – it slows liver function down – not great news if you are having a few glasses of wine.   BUT this mincemeat doesn’t contain the low grade oils (like vegetable suet) that damage your health.  If you choose organic dried fruit you will be avoiding the sulphur dioxide (preservative) that wreaks havoc on so many peoples digestion around Christmas time.  This preservative is converted by pathogenic bacteria in your bowel into irritating sulphites, which can cause gas, bloating and general unwellness in your gut.  Here’s to a happy and a healthy (ish) Christmas.  I will certainly be eating some mince pies…