Few people today know what REAL mincemeat should taste like, today's version paling in comparison to the mincemeat that has been a household tradition for centuries. Give this traditional version a try and even if you've always hated mincemeat this may just be the one to convert you!
Combine all ingredients except for the brandy and rum in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to LOW and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, more towards the end to prevent burning. (If the liquid reduces too soon and the mincemeat starts to stick/scorch on the bottom, add a little bit of apple juice or water.) Stir in the brandy and rum. (Note: If you prefer to have the alcohol cooked out, add them at the same time as the other ingredients.)
Spoon the hot mincemeat into sterilized jars. As the mixture cools the suet will harden, creating a seal to help preserve the mincemeat. *If you're including the beef be sure to refrigerate the mincemeat. If you're storing it for more than a couple of weeks follow the directions in the blog post for pressure canning the mincemeat for longer-term storage.See blog post for additional ways of storing your mincemeat.
Makes about 1 quart. Feel free to double, triple, etc, as needed.
Note: Mincemeat is traditionally stored for several months before using to allow time for the flavors to deepen, however this mincemeat is also delicious eaten within just a few days.
Note: Another way to make mincemeat is to skip the cooking process and to pack the raw mixture directly into sterilized jars and store in the fridge for at least 2 days and up to 2 weeks (be sure to use the freshest meat) and then to cook the mixture directly into the pies. If you're planning on storing the mincemeat for a longer period of time, follow the instructions for cooking it. My preference is to cook the mixture either way because it brings out the flavors of the ingredients, releasing the oils of the spices and melding the flavor together.What To Do With the Top Layer of Hardened Suet: When you use the mincemeat you can mix a little of that top layer of suet into the mincemeat - if I use any it's only a little bit as the mincemeat already has suet mixed throughout it. You can also reserve and use the suet for other purposes (use this wonderfully flavored suet in other pastries in place of butter or plain suet), or just discard it. Note: If you're going to use your mincemeat soon after making it instead of storing it long-term, you still need to use the suet when making this recipe. The purpose of the suet is not only to preserve the mincemeat for long-term storage. Not all of the suet rises to the top, much of it remains mixed in with the mincemeat and adds flavor, acts as a binder, and contributes an important texture element to the pies you'll be making with the mincemeat.