This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love all of them.

The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.

I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.

Sunday 31 October 2021

Mincemeat and Quince

The days are getting shorter and the trees are beginning to shed their leaves.      The quince tree has done magnificently this year.  The fruit enormous and abundant.   I try to leave them on the tree as long as possible, but the severe winds of the last few days have meant that I had to pick them before they fell - quince are very easily bruised and I didn't want to waste any of them.

A few slices of quince really elevate the flavour of an apple crumble and my family love apple crumble for pudding.    Quince are also very good roasted in with a lot of root vegetables and onions.   This time of year I also drop a few slices of quince into the pot when I make a vat of spinach soup just to add a bit of punch.   

Quince Vinegar is my favourite and I have already made 5 litres of it.   Allowed to mature, meld and mellow for a few weeks, it will be perfect for making salad dressings and for seasoning food.   I plan to make another brew which can be put into pretty bottles and given away as a small additional Christmas gift.

Quince Marmalade, Membrillo, and Quince Jelly are also on the list of things to make.  Quince will be used in puddings and cakes and some will be frozen for future use.   I may even make a bottle or two of Quince Vodka to go along with the gifts of Quince Vinegar.

The remainder will be given away to neighbours, family and friends.

Today, however, I really wanted to get started on making mincemeat, ready for Christmas.

A quick rummage through the pantry and store cupboard soon showed me that I had lots of tail ends of bags of dried fruits which needed to be used up.   So if this years mincemeat is a success it can never truly be replicated because it is a real mixture of the conventional and the exotic.  The usual spices, some veggie suet, brown sugar,  zest and juice of a couple of large oranges, a very large dollop of home made bitter orange marmalade, and some home-grown Bramley apples went into the mix (I could have used quince).

As I came to add the apples it became apparent that I needed to get out my really enormous mixing bowl.  

The smaller bowl is very large; the other one is huge and very old. It belonged to my late uncle.  Quite why he had such an enormous bowl is a bit of a mystery as he only cooked for himself and my aunt and they were frugal eaters.

The bowl has some cracks, one of them quite large, but I cherish it because he used it; he was my favourite uncle.

The orange juice, chopped apples and deliciously bitter orange marmalade were stirred into the mix before I clingfilmed it and set it aside in the pantry for the night.

Earlier this morning I decanted it into a large roasting pan, covered it with foil ready for a two-and-a-half hour bake in a very low oven.    Recipe and photographs to follow in a day or two.

This is Millie in her favourite kitchen perch.  She likes to oversee all food prep from her vantage point.   I'm not sure how much longer she will be able to squeeze her rather ample self into that basket.    


  1. It's quince time here too. I'm waiting for my annual bag of them from our neighbours. I never knew what to do with them. Last year I boiled the lot with a little sugar and then pureed and froze it in small amounts. I've used that puree in everything and am finishing off the last of it with my morning oats.
    I make Xmas mince like you. Spices and apple and marmelade and I'm sure I must put in some of that quince puree.
    I have a big container in the freezer from last year. Xmas is coming fast!!

    1. Hi Linda, You could make Quince Pickle, Quince Liqueur, Quince Tea, Quince Cake, Jelly, Membrillo, Quince Jam with Black Pepper and Whisky...you would work your way through those quince in no time at all!
      Our tiny village is putting together a Christmas Show this year - a show along the lines of the traditional summer show, with lots of competitive cooking, crafting, etc...providing we don't get bogged down with another outbreak of Covid, of course. Four members of my close family were ill with it last month - husband and I somehow managed to evade the virus despite them all having been in our house, had hugs, etc. I hope you and yours are all keeping well.