Mince Pies – (Part II – The History)
We all enjoy these delicious sweet treats at Christmas, but do any of us know the history of these delicious little pies?
It is possible that the Christmas mince pie dates back to the 11th Century and the Crusaders. On their return from the Holy Land they brought back with them oriental spices, three of which -cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, – were added to their pies. These three spices symbolised the Three Wise Men. Unlike today the pies were oblong, rather than small and round, another symbol of the cradle of Christ. The ingredients at this stage were likely to have been meat and possibly eaten before the Epiphany on the 6th January.
During the Stuart and Georgian times, in the UK, mince pies were a status symbol at Christmas! Very rich people liked to show off at their Christmas parties by having pies made in different shapes ( stars, crescents, hearts, tears, & flowers); Having pies like this meant you were rich and could afford to employ the best, and most expensive, pastry cooks!
The modern mince pie as we know it today, has lost its meat origins and is instead filled with fruit mincemeat which is now traditionally made up of raisins, sultanas, candied peel, apricots and currants. To this spices like nutmeg or cinnamon, alcohol and sugar are added.