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Mincemeat Pie Recipe

November 28th, 2017 by Susan Odom

Plum pudding and Mincemeat made at Hillside Homestead

Plum pudding on the left and several large jars of mincemeat on the right.

Mincemeat – The ratio based recipe


This recipe is based on the recipes in The Kentucky Housewife, published in 1839.  Over the years I have tweaked this recipe and developed a ratio for the ingredients based on about one pound of prepared tongue. I found that I normally get about 1 pound of prepared meat from a raw beef tongue after it is cooked, trimmed, and minced.


Ratio of ingredients

  • 1 beef tongue or  1 pound plus of venison loin (back strap)
  • 1 pound of Beef kidney suet
  • 2 pounds of dried fruit (raisins, currants, cherries, etc)
  • 1 pound of candied fruit (brandied cherries, citron, orange peel, lemon peel, some people use some preserves or nice jam)
  • 3 pounds of prepared apples, Rhode island greenings
  • .5 pounds of almonds, walnuts and/or hickory nuts
  • 2 pounds of sugar
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon mace
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 quart cider
  • 1 pint brandy
  • Molasses to cover tongue



Thus is a long and somewhat complicated recipe. You have to really want to make it. And this is called mincemeat for a good reason; there is lots of chopping and mincing to do. Read the recipe thoroughly and make a plan, it will take a few days to complete.


Put the beef tongue in a large pot of water and simmer till cooked but still tender, a knife inserted to the thick part should go in easily. You could also call it ‘fork tender’. This takes 2-3 hours or more. Don’t let it cook fast because that makes the tongue tough. Remove the tongue from the pot to cool a bit. When it has cooled just enough to handle it, go ahead and peel off the skin and taste buds. Trim off the root parts and any glands. A lot gets trimmed off. Trim it nicely and put it in a covered dish and cover it with molasses. Refrigerate that overnight. The next day mince the tongue very fine. For backstrap roast it in stead.


Now prepare all the other ingredients and have them ready. Here are a few notes on some of them.


  • Dried Cherries: Chop the cherries in half. If you don’t have these you could try dried apricots or maybe prunes and some dates.
  • Brandied Cherries: I make my own brandied cherries; you can skip this step if you don’t have any. I don’t know where they can be purchased. Some recipes call for adding some preserves or nice jam. You could try that.
  • Apples: I like to use Rhode Island Greening apples. They are a very fine cooking apples and don’t turn to mush in the mincemeat crock. They are peeled, cored and minced fine.


  • Citron: I only use my homemade candied citron. I think the conventional citron available at common grocery stores is intolerable and should be avoided. It does not taste like the real thing at all. If you can’t get any good citron, just skip it. And of course to prepare it for the mincemeat crock it should be minced fine. You can add some quality candied lemon or orange peel instead.


  • Nuts: of course mince them fine.


  • Oranges and lemons: First grate the rind of the citrus fruit and set it aside in a bowl. Then squeeze the juice from what is left and set it aside in another bowl.
  • Cider: This is called hard cider today. I can buy it local but not everyone can. Lots of local ciders are being produced today. If no local is available,  woodchuck brand will do. This is a fermented drink. It is often confused with apple jack or other types of spirits or whisky.  It is not as strong as whisky or brandy or even wine.


  • Brandy: I use the Ernest and Julio brand of brandy


  • Beef suet: Know the weight of your beef tongues and get the same amount in beef suet. On average I have found tongues are about 1.5 pounds each. Many local butchers will put the beef suet through a sausage grinder for you, thus mincing it for you. If you have to buy the suet whole you will have to mince it very finely yourself. This is a lot of work.


After you have all the indigents ready and standing by you can begin to mix it all together.


Mix the suet with the salt and about 2 cups of the sugar, so that the suet is well coated and does not clump together. Take ½ cup of the sugar and the grated lemon and orange rind and mix those 3 ingredients together well. Now mix the suet with the minced tongue and apples. Add the raisins and currants. Sprinkle the sugar and citrus rind mixture on top and mix it all well together. Add the dried cherries and brandied cherries and mix well. Sprinkle the citron and almonds on top and mix it all together very thoroughly.


Dissolve and simmer the remaining sugar in the brandy and the cider. Then add the spices to it and dissolve. Then add the lemon and orange juice. Let it simmer a bit more. Let it cool before adding it to the crock of mincemeat.


Now mix the wet ingredients with the other ingredients in a tall crock or some large container. Allow this mixture to stand for at least a few days before attempting to use it, two weeks or more is ideal. This will make about 1-2 gallons of mincemeat. Keep the mincemeat in a crock/crocks or gallon glass jars all throughout the holiday season and use as needed.  It is usually made in early November and then used to make pies until it runs out, maybe sometime in January or February. The crock of mincemeat can be kept in the refrigerator or a cellar or maybe even a cold garage. Just keep it well covered with a heavy cloth and some string or a lid. Don’t let it freeze.  It should stay moist. In the beginning it will soak up lots of moisture so you will have to add more brandy and cider. Be liberal with the liquids and keep the mincemeat moist.  The liquor is what keeps it from spoiling and the sugar too! The mincemeat improves with age. Make sure to stir it at least every other day. If it does not get stirred the mincemeat exposed to the air at the top of the crock will start to mold.


When you want to make a pie, prepare a top and bottom crust. Put the bottom crust into the pie plate and prick the bottom of the crust and then scoop in enough mincemeat mixture to fill the crust, you can add more minced apples at this point if desired. Put the top crust on and cut some vents into the top. I always brush a bit of milk on the top crust and sprinkle a bit of sugar. It improves the way the crust looks. Bake at about 350 degrees till golden brown probably about an hour. Enjoy! If anyone has any questions please contact me and I would love to hear from you if you really do make this!


February 2017 Value-Added Meat CSA

February 24th, 2017 by Susan Odom


Value-Added Meat CSA

Welcome to the third installment of our value-added meat CSA. We hope you enjoy it. Below are a few comments about some of the articles in your box. If you have any questions, please let us know. You can contact email Susan here.

Maple Smoked Bacon

We are proud of this bacon. It was cured using locally sourced maple syrup and then hickory smoked. It has not been sliced, which gives you the opportunity to slice it thick or think or to dice for a recipe.

Smoked Ham

This is a fully cooked food. Thaw in the fridge to slice and eat. Or let it come up to room temp and slice. It also is good fried, sliced thick or thin for sandwiches, or in your favorite recipe.

Smoked Andouille

A spicy, smoked Cajun sausage ready for your favorite recipes. Delicious in jambalaya or Susan likes it in fried cabbage with apples. One of Andrea’s specialties.

Italian Sausage

This is not like the stuff you get at the grocery store. We toasted the fennel, we minced the garlic fresh – this stuff is the best. Your share may include links or bulk sausage, all fresh and ready for you to fully cook in your recipe.

Poultry Bone Broth

This delicious  poultry bone broth is made from bones and the feet of chickens and ducks. Yes you read that right, feet. Don’t be afraid because the cartilage in all of those bones is so good for you! We combine the bones with carrots, celery, onion, garlic and dried herbs from Susan’s garden and plenty of cold well water. Simmer for hours on the wood stove.

Maple Sugaring at Hillside Homestead

February 16th, 2017 by Susan Odom

Time to make sugar at Hillside Homestead

Maple Sugaring season is upon us at Hillside Homestead. How long will it last, only the weather knows. The perfect weather is around 40 degrees during the day and dipping below freezing at night; that allows the sap to run up the tree and then drop back down at night.

Just for fun here are some maple sugaring entries from Sarah Palmer’s diary. Sarah and her husband farmed in my community and she kept a diary from1876 to 1915, not every day, but many days.

April 9, 1893
Perry got home this morning. Lorin came down this morning. Nellie is sick. Elmer brought Edwin & Clyde up to stay while they went over to Eri’s. Indian (a sir name was given but it was unclear) came here & brought us a pail of maple syrup. Mother was here a while. Elmer came for the children after supper & Lorin went home in the evening.

March 17, 1904
Lyle went up to Norris’s Mill with a grist of wheat, Pa done the noon chores. Rosa’s cough keeps troublesome, she is taking Kings Discovery. It is not very cold nor very bright, it snows. my cold bothers me a good deal. I am eating maple sugar every day. Lyle got his grist ground and got back home about three oclock. Pa walked to town this afternoon and got a letter from Amzi and one from Catherine Peck. I will make biscuit for supper.

April 23, 1907
Pa went to town afoot the boys went to school. I sent a letter off to Perry, also one to Amanda Weaver at Gr Rapids. Eri came before dinner. Clyde Peck is plowing across the road & brings his dinner up here at noon at sits at the table with us. Lyle is plowing. Rosa finished her washing. I made bread six loaves, and a batch of cookies. We had a dish full of maple syrup that I made on the stove.
Notes: evidence of making syrup on the stove and not outside! And the neighbor is already out plowing and she is still making syurp, overlapping seasons.

Sept 24 and 25, 1908
Baked bread, cake, cookies, and apple pies and made sauce. We went to the Leelanaw Co Fair, Melville took Ned and Dennis and the Calf. I took a big plant of California grass and Arthur’s cake of maple sugar, 25 years old. We took our dinners with the Catholic ladies. School closed for afternoon and the boys went from school.

We all went to the Fair again. We got our dinners with the Ladies Aid of the Keswick church. the boys went from school again to day. Melville got First premium on Ned & the calf and winter squash, we had watermelons and onions there, I got 1st premium on the plant and Arthurs maple sugar.

Notes: 1st premium means first prize which usually included a monetary award too. So She won an award for one of her houseplants and a 25 year old cake of maple sugar! And she uses an old spelling of Leelanau, replacing the U with a W .

The Chicken Experiment: Heritage birds vs. modern birds

September 23rd, 2016 by Susan Odom

I have a keen interest in food history and agriculture history. I own and operate a historic Farm Stay. Cooking from 19th century cook books is one of my passions. I have a love for farming too.

But I knew that the chicken I could buy at the grocery store was nothing like the chicken that was being cooked in those old books. So I had to know. I had to try. So I had to raise some old style, heritage birds. or what we should really call, Standard Breeds. A standard breed chicken is capable of sexually reproducing by itself. The modern chicken that is most commonly eaten today, the Cornish Cross Broiler, is a hybrid and as thus can’t reproduce on its own. She and he is a hybrid that has been in development since about the 1950s. Today that bird gains weight quickly and is ready to butcher in 6 to 8 weeks. This chicken does not live long enough to mature sexually and would probably have some health problems if it did. They have the ability to rapidly convert grain/feed into meat.

So I settled on two standard breed birds for my experiment, Silver Laced Wyandottes and White Plymouth Rocks. I purchased them from Murray McMurray Hatchery in March 2016 and butchered them in September 2016 at about 22 weeks of age. At the same time my friend and partner in all things farming raised up a batch of Cornish Cross Broilers that we butchered the same day when they were 7 weeks old. Circa 1900 standard breed birds were used for meat and eggs and of course they can sexually reproduce. They take 20 to 24 weeks to reach a butchering weight. That is a lot longer than the 6 to 8 weeks.

The standard breed birds were smaller at 22 weeks then the hybrid birds who were only 7 weeks old. That was a bit disappointing. The broilers had larger breasts and smaller legs and a wider hip. The standard breed birds were taller, had a much smaller breasts, in fact the breast bone was sometimes prominent. The leg quarters were large and well developed compared to the broilers and that dark meat was very dark.

And then we had a chicken tasting. We roasted and fried one of each bird. The broiler tasted as I expected in both cases. Our home-grown broilers are quite tasty. The only thing I don’t like is the dry breast. The standard breed birds overall had a better ‘chicken’ flavor. The breast was much smaller but it was very tender, moist and flavorful in both the roasted and the fried. The legs were a bit tough, especially in the roasted bird. I wonder if brining will fix that? And some thought the skin was a bit too tough.

I plan to continue raising some standard breed chickens, even though it is more expensive ( more feed and more of my time) than the Cornish Cross Broiler. I want to try again and read more cook books. Make more observations. I’m not here to demonize the Cornish Cross hybrid, I’m here to learn and try to rediscover old foodways.

Please come back to this post in the future I plan to update it periodically ! thanks for reading. another interesting article is here,

This webpage sells this sort of chicken, ready for your freezer


 Catching free ranging birds is harder than broilers

Catching free ranging birds is harder than broilers

some of the roosters we butchered

some of the roosters we butchered

part of our butchering set up

part of our butchering set up

the broilers are on the left and the standard breeds on on the right

the broilers are on the left and the standard breeds on on the right



standard breed

standard breed

broiler leg on left. Standard breed on right

broiler leg on left. Standard breed on right

the tasting crew

the tasting crew


April Offering – Value-Added Meat CSA

April 5th, 2016 by Susan Odom

The New Value-Added Meat CSA

Next new thing here at the farm, a value-added meat CSA ! Susan Odom of Hillside Homestead is

partnering with Sara Moorhead and Andrea Logan-Deibler in this new business. Spots are limited right now but we hope to have more openings in the future. Below is what the first package has to offer. And even further down the page are some ideas/info on how to use this delightful bounty.

Some of the pigs we have raised for our meat CSA!

Some of the pigs we have raised for our meat CSA! They look especially cute as youngsters.

Here is what is in this initial offering:

1. Boneless Pork Chops
2. Bone-in Pork Chops
3. Boneless Pork Loin Roast
4. Boneless Pork Butt Roast
5. Roasted Pork Belly
6. Andouille Sausage
7. Bratwurst Sausage
8. Italian Sausage
9. Toulouse Sausage
10. Maple Bacon
11. Smoked Ham
12. Whole Chicken
13. Leaf Lard
14. Pork Bone Broth
15. Chicken and Duck Eggs

And now a few ideas on how to use these delightful meat products!

  • Leaf Lard: This lard is from inside the body cavity of the pig; it is the fat that covers the tenderloin and the kidneys. Leaf lard has the densest crystalline structure of all fats and who cares… because that means it makes fine pastry. So we recommend using this lard for making pie crusts. It makes the flakiest pie crust ever! Several years back Traverse Magazine did a video of Susan making pie crust, here is a link to that video if that is helpful.


  • Pork Bone Broth: This broth was made by roasting the bones for 24+ hours and then simmering them in water for another 24 hours. Then this was strained and the  liquid was further enhanced with onion, celery, carrot, garlic and dried herbs from last year’s garden. The broth will probably be a solid jelly after it thaws. It can make a good soup base or add it to foods that need a flavor boost, rice, stews, deglaze a pan, etc. You can use it  in place of chicken broth in many recipes, it is a bit stronger so you can probably dilute it with some water. The collagen in bones is present in this broth and is good nutrition for us humans. One of the delights of raising your own animals for whole animal butchery is so that you can use up most of the parts, including the bones!


  • Duck Eggs vs. Chicken Eggs: Ducks eggs average 70 grams and chicken about 50 grams in weight. In some cases they can be used interchangeably. The whites of duck eggs are more translucent than chicken eggs and the yolks are bigger and usually richer. Susan likes to use them in baking and omelettes!


  • Maple Bacon vs. Roasted Pork Belly: This is all made from the same cut of meat, the belly. The bacon was cured  with maple syrup we made ourselves right here at Hillside Homestead and lightly smoked. This is a raw product and needs to be fully cooked before serving. The roasted pork belly was lightly seasoned and then roasted at high heat. It is a fully cooked and ready to eat food. The bacon can be served for breakfast as usual or cut into small chunks “lardons” and pan fried for flavor for vegetables, pasta, etc. This is a more subtle bacon, with a pork forward flavor.  The roasted pork belly is delicious as a sandwich; yes, you read that correctly. Try  a small sandwich on a roll or baguette, with pickled vegetables and savory spreads. Like the bacon it can also be used to add flavor to vegetables or other recipes.


  • Smoked Ham: This is a fully cooked food. Thaw in the fridge to slice and eat. Or let it come up to room temp and slice. It also is good fried, sliced thick or thin for sandwiches, or in your favorite recipe.