Why are mince pies called mince pies?

WHEN mince pies reappear in shops they signal the start of the festive period.

For many they're the thing most looked forward to about Christmas.

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Why are mince pies called mince pies?

Mince pies might seem like a funny name for something that usually doesn't contain meat – at least in the modern day.

Originally they did contain meat and over the course of history the recipe changed.

The British recipe can be traced back to the 13th century when crusaders brought back fruits, spices and meats from the Middle East.

They used to be savoury in flavour and made using minced meat, suet (which is hard white fat), dried fruits, spices cloves and nutmeg – they were often consumed as a main course meal.

In the Tudor period they contained 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and his 12 apostles and mutton represented the shepherds.

For some time mince pies were linked to Catholicism.

They also used to be made in a longer rectangular shape but during the Victorian period they became circular, just as we have them today.

It was also within the Victorian period that the recipes became sweeter and meat was phased out.

What is in mincemeat?

Mincemeat most often used today is made from a mixture of chopped dried fruit, distilled spirits and spices.

The method came about as a way to preserve meat without salting or smoking it.

Today there is sometimes beef suet (hard white fat), beef, or venison included in the mix, though this is rare and usually they are meat-free.

Traditionally, mincemeat used to always contain meat and modern recipes have moved away from this.

There are many recipes available online with slight variations.

Are mince pies vegeterian?

Modern mince pies usually are vegetarian, but you should always check individual packaging to be certain.

Most mince pies sold today are not made using mince, like the name suggests.

The treats can even be made vegan and with various other substitutes depending on dietary requirements.

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