400 Years of mince pies: the decline of meat

It’s well known that mincemeat used to contain actual meat and now the only remnant of that fact is the presence of suet in some recipes. In the age of fridges and copious fruits and sugar the mince pie has evolved into something sweeter and less meaty. Thanks to some fantastic internet resources regarding the history of food (listed below as sources) it’s possible for anyone to look back at historic recipes and discover, not only how hard they are to read and what strange units they used (a pottle of apples?), but also the slow decline of meat. In the past 400 years suet first began to replace the meat and then both slowly faded out of existence, in favour of more fruit, sugar and booze, which are all that are left in some modern recipes.

400 year history of mincemeat

Of course it’s only 9 recipes and I’m obviously oversampling recent times, but it gives a nice illustration of how recipes can be broken down into proportions for comparison and also the slow change in preferences with some of the most influential cookery writers of the time. I look forward to the ‘real meat in mincemeat’ revival that will undoubtedly come, after all everything in food goes through a revival at some point.

Mincey Pies
Mincey Pies by Clare Sutton



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *