Question about mincemeat ingredients

pqtexJuly 14, 2012

I am looking at the Brandied Mincemeat recipe adaptation that Readinglady posted a while back. It sounds delicious, and it sounds better than the original in the Ball Blue Book. Her version includes doubling apples and pears, reducing the sugar, and using citrus zest and juice instead of ground citrus.

After searching all of my canning books for recipes, I see a big variety of dried fruits used and get the sense that the measurement precision required in other recipes is less rigid with the mix of the fruits in mincemeat. Am I wrong about this? How much leeway can I have with the mix and proportion of the dried and fresh fruits? What other fruit is acceptable in mincemeat?

I have a can of sweet cherries that could be added, and I have fresh figs available, also. Do I need to add more orange or lemon juice with any of these additions?

I've also noticed that some mincemeat recipes call for apple cider vinegar, but this one calls for apple cider (or apple juice). Does this affect the safety of the recipe if the fruit proportions are changed any?

I'm trying to use up the rest of my good pears. Is it feasible (and safe) to add even more fresh pears?

I was surprised to see that Cloves weren't included in the spices. I thought that was a big part of the mincemeat flavor. I know it's safe to add, but wondering at the exclusion.

I found a delightful, delicate pear liqueur to substitute for the brandy and sherry. Cheaper, too.

I'm not one to mess with approved canning recipes, but this just seems like a recipe that has some leeway. Please, please correct me if I'm wrong!



Here is a link that might be useful: mincemeat recipe adaptation

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Some leeway perhaps because you are working with acidic fruits with the exception of the figs so I wouldn't use those.

Otherwise without seeing the recipe I can't comment on how much deviation you could make without the vinegar. I would 'assume' that as long as the total amount remains the same the portions of the various fruits wouldn't cause a problem since you'd still be in the acid pH but Carol can better address that issue.

The big question in my mind is how far can you deviate from it and still end up with actual mincement. It is a rather distinctive texture and flavor after all with limited uses. As to the pears there are so many other things that can be made with them.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 11:31AM
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I've already made my other pear items, so I don't need them for anything else. I only have a couple of extra pounds to use up (over and above the recipe amount) and 3 extra apples. I appreciate the advice about the figs. I'd seen some mincemeat recipes with figs in them, but they may have been dried figs.

The adapted recipe Carol posted is included in the link in the original post.

I think the original BBB recipe called for cranberries, which my store doesn't have, but they do have dried cranberries. The original BBB recipe also called for candied fruit peel, not carried in my store except during the holidays. I'll have to start making that. The original also called for ground lemons and oranges, which I think might taste bitter (instead of juice and zest called for in the adaptation).

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 11:57AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I would think you could do some swapping but I agree with Dave about the figs since they're lower-acid.

I'm not averse to cloves but would rather add them after canning and when I'm actually using the mincemeat (which is actually a "fruit mince") as they can really overpower the mixture, especially after some shelf time.

Another option would be Ellie Topp's pear mincemeat, which I have also made and which is delicious. It's a lighter alternative (more year-round and not so "holiday-ish.")


    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 11:21PM
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Carol, one last question...

This recipe calls for apple cider or apple juice instead of cider vinegar, but in the instructions it says that more cider vinegar can be added if the mixture is too dry. Since this recipe also calls for brandy (in my case adding pear liqueur), will the addition of cider vinegar overpower or take away the flavor of the liqueur? Could I add more of the cider/juice instead of adding vinegar? Which would taste best?

Thanks for your patience...


    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 11:11AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Cider vinegar is much more acidic than juice, so it has a higher margin of safety, but in this case it's a typo and apple cider or apple juice (or additional orange or lemon juice) would all be fine. They're all acidic and additionally will reduce the density of the mixture assuring improved heat penetration.

There's no cider vinegar in the recipe and I didn't mean to type that.

Personally, since you stated the pear liqueur is delicate, I wouldn't add more of that prior to canning because I think with all of these dried fruits you're not even going to notice it's there. That is the advantage of brandy and why I macerated the fruit.

I have a mincemeat pie recipe that calls for the addition of Drambuie just prior to baking. That's what I would do with your liqueur. You'll get a lot more of the flavor added after canning when the mincemeat is opened.

I'm a big fan of taste-testing and since this is perfectly safe to eat straight out of the jar (akin to a conserve or chutney) I'd do that and "tweak" to my taste. You could also add toasted walnuts for crunch if you like that sort of thing. Or make a nut pastry for little holiday tassies or tarts.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 2:03PM
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Oh Darn! I knew I should have listened to my inner voice on this one. When I first read the recipe, I wondered if it was a typo, so I looked up the original Blue Ribbon recipe, and it is listed there too, not in the ingredient list, but in the instructions. I got in a hurry and decided to go with it. I added some, and it did change the flavor significantly. It tastes more like my regular Pear mincemeat and you're right about the pear liqueur...that flavor disappeared. The cider vinegar hides some of the other fruit flavors and I should have just added more juice, but it will be okay.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 2:46PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

If you added a bit to thin, I think you're going to find over time that it's nearly "invisible." Since mincemeats are typically eaten in the winter and cider vinegar does mellow over time, with all the other flavors I'm guessing it will be barely perceptible. You may even find the bit of apple tang that remains is appealing.

If not, and you plan to do a second batch, you can always blend the jar contents upon opening to further reduce the impact.

I hadn't even realized but apparently I entered the recipe instructions from the book, modifying only to the degree I altered them, and didn't even notice that editing error.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 5:58PM
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After a series of senior moments, I successfully completed the mincemeat in 2 canner loads. I ended up with 15 processed pints, one quart in the refrigerator, and a quart of mincemeat syrupy liquid in the refrigerator. My husband has already asked if I could use the mincemeat syrup to make a sauce for bread pudding, which I think will work quite nicely.

The reason the recipe made so much was I kept adding fruit, then had to add to the other ingredients proportionally so that the recipe stayed on track.

I think it is all going to turn out okay. I did not need to add the cider vinegar for thinning, although I thought I did. Silly me, noticed how thick it was before I started the simmer...totally forgot about the juices cooking out of the fruit. I had already added one cup of cider vinegar by then, and by the time it simmered a while, it was pretty syrupy. I end up adding more sugar.

I canned the first batch then had the "duh" moment that it was supposed to be thicker, so had to go look up how thick it was supposed to be. I drained some of the excess syrup off and canned the second batch.

My husband has a sweet tooth and he loves this.

What I really learned from this is that the regular pear mincemeat recipe in the Ball Blue Book is much simpler, calls for fewer ingredients, is less expensive to make, and I like it just as well.

The other thing I noticed...the best flavor was before I added any spices at all, and all of the dried fruits had been macerating in the pear liqueur and sugar. That would have been delicious all by itself!

Live and learn...probably don't need to make any mincemeat for a


    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 9:39PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I will remember what you said about liqueur macerated fruit sans spices.

I do have two bottles of Williams pear brandy, so I have no shortage of "alcoholic pear" I could use in future batches!


    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 9:49PM
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