Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mincemeat Minus the Meat

On Monday this week I went in for my first attempt at a mock mincemeat recipe. Mincemeat was something we got to have at Thanksgiving around our house. It was made out of the green tomatoes that were left over from the summer. It was a wonderful filling for a pie; green tomatoes that should not be wasted combined with dried fruits, lots of spices, sugar, and some suet. Since I could not find green tomatoes last year at our usual market, I made plans to make this pear version of mincemeat. After my canning plans were made, I ended up finding lots of green tomatoes at another market I have started to attend, but I thought I should stick to the pear plan.

One of the big advantages of doing this recipe is the lack of suet. Suet is a beef fat that would take the recipe into the realm of pressure canning, which, for now is not an option due to my lack of a pressure canner. Another added benefit was the use of pears. Some people love mincemeat until they find out it is made from tomatoes. I know there are tomato sensitive people out there, so this is much more crowd friendly. The dried fruits I used in this recipe were currents, golden raisins I dried in the dehydrator here, and some dried apricots that I finely chopped up. It made me feel all warm and excited for the family fruitcake this winter!

Next went in the spices. The recipe I used from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving called for cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger. I debated exchanging the nutmeg for already ground mace, but I stuck with the nutmeg. I thought I should try the recipe as is for one year and then start tweaking. This recipe also called for brown sugar rather than a white sugar. This seemed to lend a nice warmth to the mincemeat. It smelled just like the holidays around the house.

Next came the peeled, cored, and cut pears. This took what seemed like forever. I wanted to make sure the pieces of pear were not too big as I will be making this into mini-pies for the two of us. Big fruit does not work that well in mini-pies. It works even less in the pocket pie mold I got from a kitchen store. After the pears were folded in, it was time to cook the mixture down. It made the house smell even better. This was one of the first recipes I have made for canning that I could not help but taste periodically during the cooking.

The taste was rich and layered. Everything a person looks for in holiday cooking was in that pot. I cooked it all down until it was a pretty solid mix with little liquid. From there I went to the canning process, and after 20 minutes in the water bath, I had four pint jars ready for pies, tarts, or pocket pies later this year. I am so excited by this recipe and cannot wait to crack a jar open. I decided to hide them in the pantry hoping that out of sight out of mind will work. I think that I will make up one of the mini-pies for a change of pace this year at Thanksgiving along with the usual pumpkin pie that I always make.

The clouds are rolling in fast for the storms we are expecting this weekend, so I should sign off and get my walk in before it gets too nasty. Then it is time for some Christmas gift making... yes you heard right. I am starting extra early this year in the hopes to get done in a sane and happy manner. Today is some experimentation with the computerized cutter in the hopes that a couple of projects will be easier with out having to cut all the parts by hand.... ah the wonders of technology. Well off to walk, craft, and cook.

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