Thursday, February 11, 2016

Regarding Mincemeat

A couple weeks back, I stumbled upon some half price jars of E.D. Smith’s mincemeat. I couldn’t make the stuff for that cheap, so I brought a jar home and proceeded to make a slew of delectable mince tarts using Nigella Lawson’s star-topped pastry recipe.

Six small mince tarts, still in their tins, with other tart tins visible to either side. Each tart is overflowing with glossy brown mincemeat and has a diamond-shaped piece of pastry perched on top.
I used lozenges instead of stars. Whatevs.

They went over well even with the mincemeat-deniers in my family. I had to make two batches.

Which still left me with a goodly, though not exceptional, quantity of mincemeat. Desperate for a way to prevent this delicious mana from going to waste, I lit upon one of my best ideas ever: a warm mincemeat sundae.

A translucent purple ice cream dish, fluted with a base, holds vanilla ice cream topped with whipped cream. Runny brown mincemeat snakes down the sides of the dish in delectably thick clumps and also streaks the whipped cream on top.
Ice cream, mince warmed for 25 seconds, and whipped cream. HELLO.

This, too, was a big hit. Tell all your friends.

I told all mine--and discovered, to my utter surprise, that many Americans don’t know about mincemeat.


Mincemeat (or mince, as we usually call it here in Canada1) is chopped fruit preserved in brandy and/or fruit juices, with spices. Recipes vary, but most call for things like raisins, currents, apples, and citrus peel, candied or otherwise. Traditional mince also uses beef suet, though it’s easy to substitute another fat if you’re vegetarian. You can also exclude the brandy if necessary and switch the fruits around according to your preferences. It’s totally adaptable, this thing.

If you make your own mince (something I’ll do someday, I swear), you can eat it any time you please, but it’s traditionally a holiday thing in Canada and so is only readily available to purchase in November or December. I encourage you to throw off the yoke of holiday appropriateness, though, and enjoy some delicious mincemeat as soon as you possibly can.

It really is especially good on a sundae.

  1. This caused me no end of confusion when I first arrived in New Zealand and browsed the ample selection at a pie cafe. (Pie is huge in NZ. Huge.) They offered mince and cheese pies with ketchup--a shocking combination, until you see a picture of a cut open pie and realize mince is to kiwis what ground beef is to Canadians. Ground beef + cheese + ketchup = tasty goodness. Mincemeat + cheese + ketchup = travesty.


  1. Mince in Ireland is ground beef, but we also have mince pies, which are mincemeat (fruits etc.)

  2. Well, that's a relief. I thought you were putting ice cream on top of some spam-like meat substance.

  3. I am 100% behind mincemeat now. Thank you for this very informative post.

    1. Go forth and try mincemeat, friend. Your tastebuds will sing with delight.

  4. I love mincemeat, it's not Christmas for me without vast quantities of mince pies! Damn shame you can't really get them the rest of the year!

    Saying that, I did acquire a tub of mince-pie ice-cream the other day, it was glorious!

    1. New life goal: find that ice cream and try it.

  5. Unsurprisingly, Australia follows NZ's lead in this matter. Which made some of your comments on Twitter very confusing. I'm glad to hear things aren't as dire as I worried.

    1. Regional terminology can trip a body up. I once had a really involved Twitter convo with an NZ friend who hadn't caught the "mince means something different in Canada" part of things. She couldn't understand why I found mince & cheese pies with ketchup so peculiar.