Stir up, we beseech thee, and keep it all hot.
One of my culinary New Year's resolutions for 2011 was that I was going to be much more organised this year, particularly around preserving and pickling. Last year I didn't get around to making mincemeat until the week before Christmas and by that time was actually a bit mince-pied out . . . so we were still eating mincemeat in various incarnations in April! This year I was determined to get my mincemeat in early, and in fact made mine about a month ago.
But today is Stir-Up Sunday, the day traditionally identified as the day to make your cake, pudding and mincemeat for Christmas, to give all three time to mature.
"Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
The words (the "collect") are actually taken from the Book of Common Prayer and are read in Anglican churches on the last Sunday before Advent. Since Christmas cake, pudding and mincemeat need time to stand and mature, the words of the prayer became a timely reminder that it was time to start baking and preserving, also ensuring that local shops had all the ingredients in stock.
Mincemeat is an absolute doddle to make and while many of the shop-bought versions are very good, I love the taste and texture of the one I make myself.
If you haven't made your mincemeat yet, do not fret. The mincemeat really needs a couple of weeks to mature (so there is still time) but in fact you can use it when it is freshly made, but the flavours won't be quite so entrenched.
It is also worth bearing in mind that mincemeat is not just for making mincepies. How about baking some apples stuffed with mincemeat, or making a mincemeat crumble traybake, or go savoury and stuff a pork loin with the mix.
And remember, it was traditional for the whole family to get involved in making the mincemeat. Each member should stir the mix at least once and make a wish!
Skill level: Easy
Preparation time: 30 minutes (plus at least 2 weeks maturation time)
Serves: 3 x 450 js of mincemeat
100g dried sour cherries
50g dried barberries or cranberries
125g mixed peel, finely chopped
125g ground almonds
175g shredded suet (beef or vegetarian)
250g soft brown sugar
2 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1 x Bramley or cooking apple, cored and finely chopped (peeling optional)
4 tbsp brandy
- Add all of the ingredients to a large mixing bowl, except the brandy.
- Stir well to ensure that all of the ingredients are well mixed and evenly distributed.
- Cover with a clean tea towel and leave overnight in a cool place.
- Stir again and add the brandy. Stir again.
- Fill sterilised jars with the mincemeat. You will need to cover this with a wax disc and a lid. The mincemeat will keep for about a year, in a cool dark place.
- Alternatively, if you are using the mincemeat within a few weeks, put the mixture in airtight containers and put in the fridge.
- The mixture does need to mature for about 2 weeks to allow the flavours to develop, although you can use it immediately if you prefer.