How to make Elizabethan Shred Mince Pies for a very special Christmas

Shred Pyes

Take 4 pound of a legg of veal parboiled, 4 pound of Beefe suet, 6 pared Apples, Shred altogether, put it through a sieve, season it with 4 pound of Currans, an ounce of beaten Mace, halfe a pound of sugar, six dates, Lemon Pils candied, a Gill of Rose Watter, as much sack; make them up; a quarter of an hour with bake them.

From a commonplace book of recipes belonging to Elizabeth Birkett of Townend Cumbria. Shred seems to indicate that the ingredients were shredded or cut small to make the pies.

Elizabethan Mince Pies

225g cooked lean veal or beef

225g cooking apples

225g raisins

50g dates stoned

225g shredded beef or vegetarian suet (I use Atora)

225g currants

25g candied lemon or orange peel, finely chopped

2 level teaspoons ground mace

2 teaspoons sugar

3 tablespoons rose-water (the watery sort not the essence)

3 tablespoons sherry (or brandy)


Cut the meat if using, as small as you can. Grate the apples, cut the dates small.

Add the raisins, suet, currants, peel, spices and sugar and mix well together. Wet everything with the rose-water and the sherry. 

Put a spoonful of mincemeat into patty tins lined with hot water crust pastry. I’ve used coffin shaped game pie moulds, enough for one greedy person or two polite ones, but any shape is good.

Add pastry lids to your pies. I quickly wet the whole underside of the lid and push and pinching the two layers together. 

Make two small slits in the centre of each pie with scissors and glaze the top with egg. 

Sprinkle with sugar and bake in a hot oven (220c) for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.

Feel free to leave out the meat. The pies taste wonderful with or without. 

Online Mince Pie Workshop 5th December 2021.

Join me at my Online Mince Pie Workshop on the 5th of December. You’ll get a chance to cook lemon mince pies with me from an 1830s recipe and I’ll also delve into the history of mince pies with some demonstrations of other recipes you might like to try. Tickets are still available.