Tuesday, December 17, 2013
I can't believe how many people have told me recently that they've never had mincemeat pie! Its name is an artifact of its origin in medieval times, when spiced meat and fruit pies were common. Modern versions usually just contain apples, raisins, and lots of warm spices. I made a lovely pear mincemeat using the tiny, hard pears from our backyard tree. The recipe is adapted from the excellent Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving; it makes enough for two pies, or two quarts for canning.
1 C. dried currants
1 C. golden raisins
1/2 C. chopped dried apricots
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 C. lightly packed brown sugar
2 t. ground cinnamon
2 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. ground ginger
10 C. peeled, cored, chopped pears
1 C. slivered blanched almonds
1/4 C. brandy (optional)
Combine dried fruits, zest, juice, sugar, and spices in a large stainless steel pot. Mix thoroughly, then add the pears, folding them in carefully if they are soft. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn the heat down and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, about 15 more minutes until thickened but not dry. Add almonds and brandy; simmer for 5 more minutes.
For canning: If you wish to can some or all of the recipe, heat canning jars in a boiling water bath. Remove the jars from the bath and fill, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove as many air bubbles as possible by running a knife down the sides. Dip the lids in boiling water bath using your tongs, or pour boiling water over them in a bowl to heat them. Wipe the jar rims, center the lid on each jar, and screw the band down fingertip-tight. Place the jars in the water bath and boil 20 minutes (30 minutes at 5000 feet, 35 minutes at 7000 feet). Remove jars and set them on a towel until completely cooled, preferably overnight.
For pies: Preheat oven to 350°F. Lay bottom crust in pie plate and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon flour (this helps keep the bottom crust from getting soggy). Spread one quart of mincemeat evenly into the bottom crust, cover with the top crust, and crimp edges. Poke holes in the top to make a pretty pattern and allow steam to vent. Bake 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown.