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Q&A -- Autumn and Festive Preserves

40 posts in this topic

There is a reference to the meat part of the 'mincemeat', but it was not included in the recipe. I am interested in creating a completely authentic mincemeat pie -- thus it needs to include the meat.

The Fannie Farmer "Boston Cooking-School Cookbook" has two recipes for mincemeat that contain beef. Interestingly, she also provides a recipe for English mincemeat that contains no beef. My old "Joy of Cooking" also has a mincemeat recipe containing beef.

Jim


Edited by jmcgrath (log)

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I made crab apple jelly tonight, following the course directions. It was my first time ever making jelly. Needless to say, the crab apples were well past their prime. We've been through a few freezes, and the apples although still attached to the tree were prettty much mush. I wish the class had been published a month ago. I decided that at most, I would be out the cost of a few pounds of sugar and decided to go for it. I used generic supermarket sugar, so it is most likely beet rather than cane sugar. I'll leave comments on the politics of this for some other forum.

I picked what I guessed was about six pounds of apples, left them whole, added the water, boiled for an hour and strained the juice. I ended up with two pints of juice. I added two pints of sugar which is about two pounds and started boiling again. I reached a good boil quickly at about 213F but the temperature just hung in at around 215F for what seemed like a long time. It took about a half hour of boiling to reach 221F. I canned the result in half pint Ball jars.

I'm very happy with the end product. I've never had crab apple jelly before. It is quite tart and has a lovely redish hue.

BTW, what are apple pips?

Jim

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BTW, what are apple pips?

Glad it worked OK.

Pips are the seeds.

Apple jelly on dark rye is a good combination..


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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Mincemeat the Hard Way

I must have way time on my hands to have gotten involved in this. A post by tjaehnigen asked about the absence of meat in mincemeat. I went back through some old cookbooks and found a few recipes. The one that intrigued me the most was one from Fannie Farmer’s “Boston Cooking-School Cookbook”. I think what was most interesting to me is that it called for a quart of brandy. Any recipe that calls for a quart of brandy is interesting. My adaptation of “Mince Pie Meat I” follows. The recipe makes a lot of mincemeat and takes a lot of time. I used my largest stockpot, which I also use for making beer. I can easily boil 5 gallons of wort in it

I started with 4 pounds of the cheapest lean beef I could find. It cost about $13. Also, 2 pounds of suet for about $2. $15 already. This is starting to add up I covered with water and simmered until the beef was tender. I should have cut the beef into chunks and chopped the suet. I did neither. The beef took about 4 hours to become tender, but only about half the suet had rendered. I transferred the unrendered suet to a saucepan, and moved the stockpot containing broth, beef and rendered suet to a cold porch. I carefully rendered the remaining suet in a covered pan over low heat and added it to the stockpot. This took about an additional half hour. After the stock had chilled and the rendered suet had solidified, I removed the suet and beef. I reduced the broth to one and a half cups of stock.

I chopped the beef and measured its volume. I had ten cups. I needed double that volume of peeled, cored and chopped apples. I just happened to have 9 Macintoshes, which were about 8 cups when chopped. I picked up some Granny Smiths to provide the additional 12 cups, about $5.00 more. The original recipe called for Baldwin apples, but I used what I had available. I added 3 quinces at $5.37, peeled, cored and chopped, and the rendered suet.

All of this went back into the big stockpot. I added the stock, 3 pounds of sugar, a pint of molasses at $2.49, a half-gallon of apple cider for which I lost track of the cost, 4 pounds of raisins at about $8.00 and 3 pounds of currants at $7.50. I had never used currents before. Googling it taught me that there are two kinds of currents. I used Zante currants, which are the dried form of Zante grapes. Also added was a half-pound of Citron at about $4.00. For those interested, Citron is a citrus fruit similar to a lemon. All of this got simmered for two hours.

Finally I added the last ingredients, a quart of brandy. I bought a 1.75 liter bottle of E&J brandy for around $21, a half tablespoon each of cinnamon and mace, two grated nutmegs, about a tablespoon and a half in total, and a teaspoon of pepper and a teaspoon of salt.

Side notes: The quinces did a number on my carbon steel chef’s knife. I recommend using a stainless steel knife to chop them. My total cost was around $50 and most of a day devoted to mincemeat.

Jim

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The mincemeat I know and love is NOT cooked until the final cooking in a pie.

The suet is the kideney fat chopped small, not melted or clarified.

If you add meat, its also chopped and raw, and the high levels of alcohol and sugar act as preservative.

I have put up old recipes on a sperate thread

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My friend, whose son-in-law owns an upscale butcher shop in the Bay Area, was able to bring me some suet (yeah!) so I'm now almost set to make my mincemeat. Can you tell me what the yield of your recipe is? I don't have the pretty little glass sealers but would like to pick some up tonight. I reckon it's not going to hurt the mincemeat to sit in the bowl for a little while :smile:

Thanks!

===

I found some pint jars stored away and, to answer my own question ... 7 pints!


Edited by Jensen (log)

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OK, here is a follow-up question about mincemeat pie...

We adapted a James Beard prepaation using my wife's great-grandmother's ingredients. My main question is, how 'wet' is the mixture supposed to be? We dumped a whole bottle of port into the 6 pounds of meat, 1 pound of suet, 3 pounds of raisins, 3 pounds of apples, 1.5 pounds of currants, etc mixture and it was still way too dry looking to me.

So, for better or worse, here is what we did to augment the mixture to make it more wet--

we added about another quarter bottle of port, maybe 6-8 oounces of cognac, 6-8 ounces of sherry and a good measure of the beef broth that was created when we boiled the beef prior to grinding it. It got pretty wet, but there was still no amount of liquid sitting in the bottom of the pot -- which I assume should be there to soak up the liquid over time.

Is the mixture wet enough without there being any liquid to further be sucked up over time, or should I keep monitoring the wetness and just add some as needed? And what liquid should I use -- more booze, beef broth (which is unsalted) or both or something else (water?)???

Help!

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I use rum or brandy, and add just enough to damp the mixture - maybe a couple of glasses. However I don't have the meat, and even if I did I would have equal amounts to the suet - about half your amount. Also a lot more fruit - I use 4-5lbs fruit to 1lb suet, 1lb sugar, and if used 1lb meat.

If you eat it cold then a broth that will jelly might be appropriate

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Interesting. Well, we're using a recipe from my wife's great grandmother, without any instructions, so we're kind of winging it. I am tending to think we need to go more alcohol than broth but I don't want to kill everyone when they eat this. Still, it has to go in the oven for a while in the pie crust, so perhaps some of the alcohol will 'burn off'??

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Fantastic course. I understand you planted your own quince tree. Superb idea, I can't believe you think you might have too many. What about making some booze infusions? In the Balkans they use quince to make a delicious schnapps, but as home distilling is frowned on (ok, illegal) in the UK, perhaps baking and infusing is the way to go. I make quince cheese myself, and have started experimenting with it as a cocktail ingredient. Zubrowka bison grass vodka seems the obvious partner.


Edited by Dan Ryan (log)

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We have membrillo on our menu as part of a savory/cheese course. Each batch is like re-inventing the wheel.....some are dark, some bright, some perfectly firm, others hopelessly sticky.

Is the final consistency due to the stage of sugar carmelization......or the dryness of the mix? I have a beautiful batch right now at 180 degrees F, and a darker brown batch at 160. Harold McGee is silent on the subject, except to say that cooking in the skins is important to capture the violet ionones.

Perhaps the amount of lemon juice needs to be better regulated?

Many thanks for your post, and any help.

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Well, alrighty then. The silence in this forum is deafening.....so I will answer my own questions:

The firmness of the membrillo appears to be completely unrelated to sugar temperature. Pectin does the job. Also, since we were doing 50 pounds of quince we rapidly got over peeling the quince. Absolutely no need to peel, and cooking them takes advantage of the fragrance of the ionones. We actually preferred the color and flavor of the batches with peels ground in. We simply quarter the quince, remove the seeds and steam them in a few inches of water. Further, there is no need to remove the syrup, unless you have mass quantities of water to very few quince. In fact, our most successful batch by far was the wettest. The drier batch resisted all attempts to puree it fine enough for that smooth, beautiful texture. Plus we nearly blew up two immersion blenders and our VitaMix.

So, to review the Cachagua General Store membrillo recipe: 5 pounds of quince, quartered and seeded. Two quarts of water. Cover and cook until soft. Puree my any means necessary but be careful of your motors. Add five pounds of sugar, cook slowly, covered with a screen to avoid burns. Stir occassionally, immersion blend occaisonally. When finished pour onto halfsheets covered with parchment, or into silicone molds.

We put the sheets in our Wolf gas oven overnight just on the pilot to finish drying a bit. Perfect!

I will post photos of the process as soon as my iPhone decides to communicate with my laptop.


Edited by Txacoli (log)

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I'm sorry I didn't see this until now. I've been making far smaller batches than yours (from Japanese quinces), and although a few don't set up as well, most set up firmly.

I always leave the skins on while cooking, and my weapon of choice is a food mill; a first pass removes the sees and such, a second fines it down (and I think may release more pectin).


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Well, alrighty then. The silence in this forum is deafening.....so I will answer my own questions:

The firmness of the membrillo appears to be completely unrelated to sugar temperature. Pectin does the job. Also, since we were doing 50 pounds of quince we rapidly got over peeling the quince. Absolutely no need to peel, and cooking them takes advantage of the fragrance of the ionones. We actually preferred the color and flavor of the batches with peels ground in. We simply quarter the quince, remove the seeds and steam them in a few inches of water. Further, there is no need to remove the syrup, unless you have mass quantities of water to very few quince. In fact, our most successful batch by far was the wettest. The drier batch resisted all attempts to puree it fine enough for that smooth, beautiful texture. Plus we nearly blew up two immersion blenders and our VitaMix.

So, to review the Cachagua General Store membrillo recipe: 5 pounds of quince, quartered and seeded. Two quarts of water. Cover and cook until soft. Puree my any means necessary but be careful of your motors. Add five pounds of sugar, cook slowly, covered with a screen to avoid burns. Stir occassionally, immersion blend occaisonally. When finished pour onto halfsheets covered with parchment, or into silicone molds.

We put the sheets in our Wolf gas oven overnight just on the pilot to finish drying a bit. Perfect!

I will post photos of the process as soon as my iPhone decides to communicate with my laptop.

Voila, photos.

Our food mill crushed up the seeds, and I didn't like the tannins released by cooking the seeds in the mash......but arms recover easier than VitaMix motors! Our final batch I think we will follow your lead and run the quarters through the food mill, then hit the mash with the immersion blender to get it super smooth.

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