Friday, August 22, 2014

Zucchini Mincemeat

Each year, I get the chance to have my very own "Christmas in July (or August)" when I fire up the stove, canner and food processor to make that year's holiday mincemeat. Mincemeat is definitely one of those "love it or hate it" foods - I personally don't like intensely rich, dark, sticky medley of dried fruit, molasses and heady spices - especially when blended with savoury components (as I've said before, I'm not a fan of "fruit + anything". My parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles are all huge fans of the stuff, however, and for some reason I'm able to make better than storebought versions myself each year, despite changing the recipe based on that season's glut of produce.  

Zucchini Mincemeat

While I'm never lacking for filling when tart time comes around, there also never seems to be quite the same volume in the container of my "freezer" batch between August and December... I'll just have to blame our house gnomes (you know, the same ones who steal single socks out of the laundry). More than just planning ahead for the holidays, though, making mincemeat is my way of continuing my mom's holiday ritual of gift-making for my dad back when they were married. The whole process is something extremely comforting, the pot emanating aromas with the power to evoke memories of the many years I spent making tarts at my mom's side and spark that little childish thrill I still get from "playing magician" in my spice cabinet. Watching the overflowing pot of produce cook down into that thick, spoonable black gold is nothing short of wonderful, especially since it's the first taste of holiday glory (without the need to bust out the snow shovel and snowsuit).

This year's mincemeat, as the title implies, is the perfect thing to use up a glut of zucchini / summer squash from the garden (which we obviously have). Laced with rum and given the extra twist of well aged, sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar, I added raisins, prunes and cranberries for texture and their slight thickening power as they soak up the fragrant, flavourful liquids. In place of tree nuts, I tossed in a handful of lentils, which also helped thicken the pot but added a rich earthiness of their own too. I canned two thirds of the batch for use in the new year (or as a Christmas in July ingredient next Summer), but froze the remaining third in a vaccuum sealed bag for easy "grab n' go" filling at holiday time. 

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

Zucchini Mincemeat
Makes 3 quarts
4 gigantic or 5 large zucchini, peeled and chopped
5 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped
3 large pears, peeled, cored and chopped
2 cups raisins
½ cup dried cranberries
12 dried prunes, chopped
½ cup vinegar
½ cup balsamic vinegar
juice and zest of 1 orange
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
½ cup molasses
¼ cup spiced rum
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp Cabernet Salt (or regular Kosher salt)
½ cup lentils
  1. Combine all the ingredients (except lentils) in a large pot over medium heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low and simmer (uncovered) until thickened, about 2 hours.
  3. Add the lentils and cook 1 hour longer.
  4. Process for 10 minutes in a waterbath canner.
Amount Per Cup
Calories: 488.0
Total Fat: 0.8 g
Cholesterol: 0.8 mg
Sodium: 82.6 mg
Total Carbs: 128.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 9.0 g
Protein: 4.5 g