Friday, October 5, 2012

Vermont Mincemeat

Since I am newly retired, I made a promise to devote myself to the blog and clear up a bunch of New England recipes. Most of the New England recipes lurk in the Miscellaneous section, which includes jams, relishes, chutneys, and in general foods that have to be "put up", i.e. canned. It's sort of exhausting, and perhaps a trifle pointless. Honestly, what am I going to do with six to eight quarts of mincemeat, on top of the two and a half quarts I made Monday? I guess my scheme is to give all these jams and weird marmalades to people for Christmas.
Vermont mincemeat contains actual meat, which is not always the case with mincemeat. It is the original day before recipe, since the first ingredient listed is two pounds of cooked roast beef. So, on Monday night, we had roast beef for dinner. The pound measurements are a little tricky. I don't have a scale so some of this stuff was approximate. It is easy to figure out with things like raisins, but when you buy apples at a farmers market and don't weigh them out, you may not be quite sure how many pounds of apples you have there.
This recipe contains some ingredients that will probably not be available until the first of November in your local grocery store. To whit, diced candied fruit peels. These are ordered before Thanksgiving, and not kept on the shelves until Christmas, as I found last year when I went to make Lizzies, a sort of fruitcake cookie. Safeway does have currents, but you would be better off just doing what I did and ordering them on the Internet. is a useful resource for the diced candied fruit peel, citron, currents, and other stuff that the grocery store considers "seasonal."
It also contains a pound of beef suet. This, you can get at a butcher shop. I lucked out at Wagshalls on Massachusetts Avenue. I was afraid I would have to go down to the Eastern Market, which is about eight blocks south of the Capitol.
I would not attempt this recipe without a food processor. The meat, the suet and the raisins have to be "ground." While the Vermonter who devised this recipe no doubt ground all her ingredients using a cast aluminum hand-cranked meat grinder that was screwed to the counter top, we have food processors.
Anyone wishing to make this also needs a good deal of time. The jars have to be processed in a water bath, which means they need to be submerged in water in a large kettle and boiled for three hours. So don't start this at 5:00 pm on Sunday afternoon if  you want to go to bed before 11:00.
The result is spicy and vaguely meaty. It should be excellent in pies.

Vermont Mincemeat

2 pounds cooked roast beef or venison, ground
4 pounds apples, peeled, cored and ground
1 pound beef suet, ground
2 pounds currants
2 pounds raisins, ground
6 cups light brown sugar or granulated sugar
4 cups cider, vinegar or grape juice
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon salt
1 pound mixed diced candied fruit peels

1. Mix all the ingredients in a large heavy kettle. Simmer, stirring, thirty minutes, or until mixture is the correct consistency. (It should not be too runny.)
2. Pack into hot sterilized jars and seal the caps. Process in a water bath for three hours or in a pressure cooker for one hour at ten pounds pressure. Store in a cool, dark, dry place.
Makes six to eight quarts.

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