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History of Mince Pie

History of Mince Pie

Mince pies are a British tradition, usually eaten during Christmas or New Years. The pies are typically very small, two to three inches in diameter, but the American version is usually four times larger, and able to serve many. Either way, the pies are made of a sweet puff pastry or shortcut pastry.

"Mince" comes from the word "mincemeat," which interestingly enough no longer contains meat. Mince pies evolved from a medieval pastry called "chewette." It was made with chopped meat or liver, boiled eggs, ginger, dried fruit and other sweet ingredients. It was fried or baked. During the 17th century, the meat products were replaced with suet, a beef or mutton fat. Vegetable fat can also be used to suit vegetarian diets. By the 19th century in Great Britain and North America, mince pies no longer contained any meat. The suet pies are still made today, but they usually vary from the traditional version.

Today mince pies are traditionally filled with fruit mincemeat, also known as fruitmince, containing dried fruit (raisins, currants, cherries, apricots, candied peels), spices (cinnamon or nutmeg), nuts (walnuts or almonds), suet and alcohol (brandy or rum). The pie is cooked and dusted with caster sugar or icing sugar.

Although many families still make homemade mince pies, they are readily available pre-made through online stores and gourmet shops. You can find a variety of types and flavors. They make great holiday gifts for far away friends and family members without the work.

Mince Pie Traditions

  • Mince pie is a favorite of Father Christmas (Santa), so children should leave a plate of pie at the foot of the chimney.
  • Only stir the mincemeat mixture clockwise because stirring it counterclockwise is bad luck for the upcoming year.
  • While eating the first mince pie of the season, it’s traditional to make a wish.
  • Always eat mince pies in silence.
  • Eating a mince pie each day of the 12 days of Christmas is good luck for the upcoming year.
  • Mince pies should have a star on top, depicting the Christmas star that led the Magi and Shepherds to baby Jesus.
  • "Mince pies," "mincers" or "minces" are cockney rhyming slang for "eyes."

Recipes for homemade mince pie:

Mince Pies by Britain Express

Pear-Mince Pie by Recipe Zaar

Vegetarian Mince Pies by Recipe Source

References:

"Mince Pie" Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.