Christmas Cranberry Mincemeat (vegan)

chopped cranberries and dried fruit in two jars
Last minute cranberry mincemeat

One Christmas back in 2010, my friend Andrew introduced me to a cranberry mincemeat recipe using very fresh ingredients that is quick to make and can be used on the same day. There is no suet or butter, nor gentle cooking or baking of the ingredients so the trade off is that it will not last as long as more traditional mincemeat recipes. It was a game changer for me in two ways. Firstly, I loved how the lime zestiness and cranberry tartness cut through what can be the overly rich sweetness of mincemeat. Quite a few people, who object to the richness of traditional mincemeat, like this one. Secondly was the fact that it could be made last minute and used immediately. At that point, I don’t think it registered with me that it was also vegan.

I realised that I hadn’t noted down exact quantities when I went to make it the following year and the internet helped me to find a Delia variation of it. Then I moved to Cambodia, where I couldn’t get cranberries so I created another version of it using local dried fruit. However, when I discovered frozen cranberries in Thai Huot, I happily reverted back to using what had now become my own version of Andrew’s original recipe. When I returned to the UK, I took a 2 year hiatus from making this to try out Delia’s more traditional versions because suet was available. However, this year, when my Christmas holiday plans got derailed by the Omicron variant and I suddenly had a week at home, I decided to cheer myself up and make mince pies with this last-minute mincemeat.

This recipe will make about 650-750g of mincemeat. I sterilised a 500g beetroot jar and 330g jam jar to store them in. When I want to bake a lot of mince pies, I double this recipe and prepare more space in the fridge.

Ingredients for Cranberry Mincemeat, adapted from Andrew.

  • 225g fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 large green apple – preferably Granny Smiths or Bramley, but any tart apple will do
  • 100g currants – can be substituted with raisins
  • 100g sultanas
  • 100g mixed peel
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • half a fresh nutmeg, grated
  • 65g dark brown sugar

Method – also in the photos below.

  1. Cut the cranberries in half and put into a medium sized bowl*. If they are very large cranberries, then cut into thirds or quarters. If they are very small cranberries, then you can leave them whole. Very small cranberries are difficult to cut and are more commonly found, in my experience, in the frozen packets.
  2. Add in the currants, sultanas, mixed peel, the zest and juice of 1 lime.
  3. Grate the apple with the skin on, into the bowl. Then add in the sugar and grate in half a fresh nutmeg. Give it a good mix to combine it all and use straight away.

Top Tip: I halve cranberries this way because I think it’s slightly faster. Lay one hand down firmly on the cranberries so that they don’t move. With your other hand, use a sharp knife parallel to your palm and carefully cut the cranberries horizontally. I haven’t got a video of this – but if you search for how to halve cherry tomatoes, you should be able to see it.

From experience, you can store this in sterilised jars or tupperware for up to 4-6 weeks in the fridge. Sterilise jars by washing them and putting them in an oven (140°C and above) until they are dry. This normally takes less than 10 minutes.

As well as the usual mince pies (bottom photo), I’m planning to use it to make a stollen babka wreath using a challah dough that was far too chilled out to rise over the weekend, and now finally is ready to be used.

cranberries cut in half in a bowl
1. Cut the cranberries in half
2. Add in the dried fruit
3. Grate in apple, the zest and juice of a lime, sugar and grate in half a fresh nutmeg. Give it all a good mix.
The first of this year’s mince pies
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