[DWJ] Re: mince pies

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Fri Dec 28 10:57:17 EST 2007

Our Jadwiga wrote

>We made the drive to Dietrich's market [snip]
> and they had real mincemeat pies for sale. I
>didn't buy any, as Dietrich's pies are way too heavy for me, but the
>non-meat mincemeat pies were on sale at Valley Farm Market when we stopped
>there for the Christmas pies.

We may be divided by a common language again, I suspect.  Real mincemeat is
meat-free in England; only mince from the butcher is ground-up meat.

Perhaps in this thread there is a confusion of naming, probably one that
dates back to the time when the word 'meat' in English meant 'food', and
'flesh' meant the meat of an animal's flesh (beef and such).  'Mincemeat',
wot goes in mince-pies, doesn't in its original form contain the flesh of
any animal at all.

Apart from some that have beef suet in them, most English mincemeats are a
vegetarian dish.  English mince-pies could even be made vegan by the
ommission of the suet and a careful pastry, I guess.  The ingredients list
on the shop-boughten Sainsbury's Own pies has apple, sugar, raisins,
sultanas, glucose syrup, currants, vegetable glycerine, dextrose, candied
mixed peel, vegetable suet (palm oil, sunflower oil, wheat flour), treacle,
mixed spice (coriander, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, carroway, clove)
cinnamon, acetic acid and orange oil in its 'mincemeat' bit; only the
pastry contains the cows' milk powder that would make a vegan discard them.

Mrs Beeton's 'Mincemeat (Vegetarian)' recipe uses lemons, apples, raisins,
currants, sugar, butter, candied citron, candied orange, cayenne, mace,
cinnamon and almond essence.

Mrs Hartley in her 'Food in England' offers a recipe for 'mincemeat' dating
back to about 1650; it contains lemons, raisins, currants, candied peel,
chopped almonds, a little fine suet, brandy, and sugar.  (She links it with

Mrs. Beeton offers 'mincemeat' containing suet, currants, raisins, apples,
sugar, sultanas,  candied peel, lemon, brandy, nutmeg, mace and cinnamon;
also an 'economical' mincemeat with apples, currants, raisins, suet, sugar,
candied peel, lemon and nutmeg.  (maybe she is being teetotal?)

Pamela Fry in *The Good Cook's Encyclopedia* of 1962 has 'mincemeat' of
suet, raisins, sugar, almonds, nutmeg, currants, sultanas, apples, candied
peel, mixed spice, lemon and brandy or rum; The Radiation Cookbook of 1935
has raisins, candied peel, sultanas, currants, apples, suet or butter,
brown sugar, lemon, orange, mixed spice, nutmeg, and brandy or rum.

It isn't until one looks in a transatlantic manner that one gets flesh involved.

Mrs. Beeton's 'mincemeat: (American Recipe for)' has cooked fresh
beef-tongue, suet, sugar, currants, raisins, candied citron, apples,
lemon-rind, alspice, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, black pepper, brandy,
sherry and sweet cider.

The Rombauer's *The Joy Of Cooking* has 'mincemeat' with chopped beef or
ox-heart, apples, beef suet, sugar, cider, raisins, currants, chopped
citron, dreid, chopped and candied orange peel, ditto lemon, lemon juice,
cinnamon, mace, cloves, salt, pepper, nutmeg, sour cherries (with juice),
broken nut meats and coriander seed.

I gather there was a piece in the New Yorker this year that claimed the
poor English peasants used to be forced to boil up their meat and
vegetables and fruit together in order to make 'Christmas pudding', but I'm
sorry, Christmas puddings don't have meat in them either, in the English
recipes.  (I am not going back downstairs to check in Beeton and Rombauer


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