Although traditionally associated with the British Christmas, mincemeat can, of course, be used all the year round, and it is always useful to have a jar in the store cupboard. For mince meat that will keep well, use a firm, hard variety of apple, such as Cox’s Orange Pippin; a juicy apple may make the mixture too moist. Pot and store mincemeat in the same way as jam but allow at least 2 weeks to mature before using. If it becomes dry, add a little extra of the original alcohol used.

To make 1.5 kg (3 lb) mincemeat, you will need 125 g (4 oz) raisins, 125 g (4 oz) sultanas, 75 g (3 oz) ready-to-eat dried apricots, 75 g (3 oz) glace cherries, 75 g (3 oz) shelled pecans or walnut halves, 175-250 g (6-8 oz) cooking apples, the grated rind and juice of 2 lemons, 50 g (2 oz) cut mixed peel, 125 g (4 oz) currants, 125 g (4 oz) vegetable suet, 175 g (6 oz) demerara sugar, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 75-150 ml (3-5 fl oz) brandy.

  1. Finely chop the raisins, sultanas, dried apricots, glace cherries and nuts and put in a large bowl. Add the peeled, cored and chopped apple with the lemon rind and juice, mixed peel, currants, suet, sugar and spices. Stir in enough brandy to make a moist mixture.

  2. Cover the bowl and leave for 2 days. Then stir again, adding a little more brandy. Spoon into clean, dry jars, packing down well with the back of a wooden spoon, cover and seal. Leave to mature for at least 2 weeks. If it becomes dry, add a little more brandy before using.