Sunday, January 4, 2009

Offbeat Storage Item: Mincemeat

We like these easy mincemeat cookies, which store well in a canister.
In our small kitchen, the cooling rack fits over the dish rack.

I store something you don't see mentioned often: mincemeat. None Such is the only commercial brand I am familiar with. It comes in condensed boxes or ready-to-use jars. The manufacturer says it has a shelf-life of 3-4 years, but I have kept it much longer. The boxes cost $3-4 dollars, and the jars cost $7-9 at full retail. You can buy them by the case through the Smuckers website, too, but I never pay retail for this.

The condensed block is sealed in plastic inside a
cardboard sleeve in a wax-sealed foil label.

It's a seasonal item that is only stocked during the holidays, so this is the time to find it on clearance sale. I live near a grocery liquidator that buys seasonal leftovers from grocery stores in bulk. By spring, I will be able to get the little boxes for 35 cents, and the jars for 75 cents - a 90% discount.

What is mincemeat? It's an old-fashioned 15th century British pie and pastry filling made with chopped fruit and spices, with a bit of beef suet, preserved in sugar. The commercial kind is not for vegetarians, but there are recipes for green tomato mincemeat and other meatless versions. The label on the condensed box has straight-forward ingredients: raisins, brown sugar, dried apples, dextrose, water, salt, beef, dried citrus peel, apple concentrate, spices, distilled vinegar.

The cookies do not taste like beef in any way!
See my new silicon baking mats? I love them.

Mincemeat is high in carbs calories, but not fat, and it has fiber. Besides, we don't store treats for their nutritional value, we store them for their emotional value. If I were living through a difficult time with monotonous food choices, I would like being able to occasionally open up a box of this and rehydrate it for a pastry treat, or make cookies using the crumbled dehydrated block. We like the recipe for Prize Cookies on the side of the box. Everything in the recipe can come from pantry storage if you store powdered eggs. There are lots more recipes on the None Such website, but I have not tried most.

If the beef turns you off, there are recipes for green tomato mincemeat, and you could can your own, but I think that kind is more like a chutney, and less like the dense, sweet traditional British mincemeat. It will take a lot of dried fruit and sugar, which is why I like buying the deeply-discounted clearance product.


fullfreezer said...

I remember one of my grandmother's making mincemeat pie but since my mother didn't like it, it was something that we never had as children. Looking at the ingredients, I'm not sure why she didn't like it. It sounds good. I'll have to see if I can find some on clearance and try it. I don't remember having it as an adult, or ever, other than my grandmother's homemade- which I really only remember as looking very strange in it's pint jars on the shelf.

Anonymous said...

I don't eat meat, so mincemeat pies aren't really an option for me I thought, ;-) but there is a veg version? It does sound like something that would store beautifully. Do you know a source for the veg version?

Anonymous said...

My great aunt used to make mincemeat. It's very good, although hers was more along the lines of a thick chutney than that dehydrated product you pictured--I've never seen that! She did can hers, though, so you could definitely make your own and preserve it. She didn't make a vegetarian version.

Matriarchy said...

I have never seen commercially-prepared vegetarian mincemeat. I think it is such an old-fashioned product that no one has thought to market it to vegetarians.

There are a number of recipes out there, but you would have to make and can it yourself, like a chutney. Some of the recipes look quite good:

I would like to try the jarred kind as a filling for streudel or danish pastry, or a breakfast sticky bun.

Maureen said...

My grandmother used to make mincemeat a kid I thought it was kind of gross. Now I am intrigued, the cookies sound good.

ps. hope you don't mind but I stole your 'Stuff we want to do' list idea and put our own list on my do believe that whole 'imitation being a sincere form of flattery' crap, right?

I really enjoy your blog (that's me sucking up...but it is true:)

Matriarchy said...

Maureen, I stole it from someone else, too! I stole the "Jan To-do" idea from Touch the Earth Farm. I like the "Stuff We Want To Do" list because it gives me more of a sense of having gotten things done, over time. If I bog down on some task, I can look back at something else we already did, and not feel like a failure.

I'm so glad you are enjoying the blog! It's been both useful, and a lot of fun. I've "met" great people through it.

Gina said...

I've seen mincemeat at the grocery liquidator near me and thought about buying it, but like the commentor above, I can't remember ever having it and wasn't sure I'd like it. The cookie recipe sounds and looks delicious-I may have to buy a few jars.

Love the 2009 list. I, too, am contemplating a return to school. I have mulitple degrees as it is, but they are not lucrative or secure and neither is the DH's field (which is more skill based adn probably a bit more secure than mine). I have a few ideas on my list of possible careers, one being a physisian's assist (a local school offer's a two years program).

It's hard to know what to do in these times. If I return to school, I am looking at (more) loans (and the question if I will recoup the $ spent), but I don't feel my current job will last (its gov and while they probably won't just terminate/lay me off, they could not renew my contract).

Your list is inspiring though!

Gina said...

Yikes, I better learn how to spell it: physician! (oops!)