Grandma Jennie’s Mincemeat.
From a close friend, a 100-year-old recipe for mincemeat, filled with memories.
“This recipe was given to me by my Grandma Jenny Wardwell Gardner. I always called her my "Gingerbread Grandma" because she was what I thought every kid could want in a grandmother. She doted on each of her 12 grandchildren and spoiled us all equally. She was born in 1900 and saw the world change many times over in her nearly 101 years. Although she was orphaned at twelve, she was college-educated, a wife and mother of three daughters, and a school teacher. She had an undauntable spirit and brought joy into all our lives.
5 cups beef (A very lean pot roast will do. Salt, sear, roast, cool and grind before adding to recipe.)
15 cups peeled, cored, seeded & chopped apples
1 cup ground suet (may be omitted; use chunks of butter instead)
5 lbs. raisins
3 cups brown sugar
2 cups beef broth or water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons ground cloves
This is a recipe that required the use of Grandma's old-fashioned meat grinder. She ground the meat while fascinated kids looked on. I don't remember her ever using the suet, but I suppose if she did, that went into the grinder, too. After that, in a VERY large pot, she mixed all ingredients together and cooked until the apples were done. My dad, who died in 1997, was the last person I knew who really liked a genuine mincemeat pie. But just in case someone else out there does, this recipe will make 6 or 7 quarts of mincemeat. One quart will make an 8-inch pie. Quarts may be canned or frozen.”
Mincemeat pie dates back to Medieval times when people did include meat and suet as fairly major ingredients. But meat was expensive and so to stretch the budget the ingredients often also contained dried fruit, sugar and spices, as was the tradition of the day.
By the mid-1800’s meat began disappearing from the recipe. In Britain the ingredients continued to be baked or fried in a miniature pie crust, like an individual serving. But in America the pie was larger, to serve several people. If you want to try an original meat based pie, try this recipe from 1796: Minced Pie of Beef. Four pound boil’d beef, chopped fine and salted; six pound of raw apple chopped, also, one pound beef suet, one quart of wine or rich sweet cyder, mace and cinnamon, of each one ounce, two pounds sugar, a nutmeg, two pounds raisins, bake in paste No. 3, three fourths of an hour.
Amelia Simmons, facsimile 2nd edition, 1796, introduced by Karen Hess (Applewood Books: Bedford, MA) 1996 (p. 26).