Monday, October 15, 2012

Que Es "Mincemeat"?

At my canning club meeting last week, we canned cinnamon pears.  The process was pretty straightforward and the result, yummy.  But, on the table at the meeting, there was some of this.

I was checking it out when another club member informed me that it was mincemeat. Mincemeat?  I didn't exactly know what it was, and I was not eager to find out.  As I headed back to my seat, though, some of the other ladies swarmed and pretty much demanded that I try it.  How bad could it be, I thought; after all, it's got cream cheese and a cracker to cut the taste. 


I immediately asked for the recipe. 

Now, mincemeat is sometimes made without meat (as this one was), but it does usually involve some type of beef or beef suet (suet, according to this website, is the hard fat around the kidneys of an animal and is frequently used in British fare).   Mincemeat is British cuisine, so I realize it's weird that I used Spanish in the title of this post. It's just that mincemeat was so foreign to me, it may as well have been a foreign language, and Spanish is the only one I know a little of ;)

I knew immediately that I planned to make some of this stuff for myself when I got home and that I might even give some as Christmas gifts.  But, the name had to go.  Would anyone even bother opening up a jar of "Pear Mincemeat"?  Further research revealed the the term "chutney" has become so widespread that so long as it involves fchopped fruit and spices, it qualifies. 

So, here's my recipe for "Pear Chutney."

7 lbs. ripe pears (Thanks, Angela, for trading me some goat milk for some pears!)
1 lemon
2 lbs. raisins
6 3/4 c. sugar
1 Tbs. cloves
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1 Tbs. nutmeg
1 Tbs. allspice
1 tsp. ginger
1 c. vinegar

(Sugar was on sale this week, so I bought 4 bags!  I figure, since I didn't have to pay for my pears, this probably came out to about $.70 per jar.  Not bad! 

Peel, quarter, and core pears.  Peel and quarter lemon, removing seeds.   
Put pears, lemon, and raisins through food processor or chopper. 

Combine with the remaining ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat (be sure to stir frequently to prevent scorching the sugar on the bottom of the pan).  Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, go feed the pear peels and cores to the chickens! 

Pour, boiling hot, into hot pint jars, leaving 1/4" headspace.

Wipe rims clean, add lids and rings.

Process 25 minutes in boiling water bath.

Remove and allow to cool, listening for the PING!
The recipe suggested it would yield 9 pints.  I got 8 pints.  (Yes, I realize there are only 7 in the photo.  I didn't process one jar and put it straight into the fridge for us to have with dinner tonight.)

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