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Source: (consider it) Thread: The best mince pie anyone can buy
Truman White
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This year I want to eat at least one of the best mince pies on the market. So which is it?
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Boogie

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Home made. Made with a dash of brandy and orange zest [Smile]

[ 10. December 2012, 16:31: Message edited by: Boogie ]

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Huntress
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*Tangent* My parents recently went to a 'Tudor Christmas' Evening and brought home some traditional mincemeat pies which contained minced lamb and dried fruit and they were one of the best things I've ever tasted.*End tangent*

As regards buying, I can't think of a particular brand right now but personally I like them with things like cherries and nuts in because I find some mincemeat to be just too much without more neutral flavours to break it up.

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Ariel
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quote:
Originally posted by Truman White:
This year I want to eat at least one of the best mince pies on the market. So which is it?

When you find out, let me know. I've been disappointed so far with the supermarket brands I've tried.

A good mince pie shouldn't be too sweet, the mincemeat shouldn't be vinegary, the pastry shouldn't be thick and cloying and covered in sugar, and should have a pleasant buttery taste. Filling should not be skimped on and there should not be any nuts in it.

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Sioni Sais
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quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
Home made. Made with a dash of brandy and orange zest [Smile]

Same here! Orange zest (and a little juice) in the pastry makes a big difference. Home made mincemeat, cooked gently so the suet melts is another plus.

btw, does anyone else make them with a macaroon style topping? Try it.

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Firenze

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Don't know if they're generally available, but Sainsburys here stock Ecclefechan Tarts.

I much prefer them to mince pies.

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marzipan
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the best mince pie is not one you've bought. It's a dozen that you've made.
My mum refuses to make any before advent sunday or after epiphany. She makes lots in between!

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St. Gwladys
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Waitrose in Abergavenny have mincemeat and ginger tarts - open mince pies made with ginger pastry and topped with stem ginger. Mmmmm....
They also have meringue topped mince tarts which look good.

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Carex
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Now I'll have to see if I can find my grandmother's recipe that started out with "a large piece of roast beef", although I expect it would require some further additions (I like the orange zest idea) to bring it up to standard.
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Truman White
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quote:
Originally posted by cheesymarzipan:
the best mince pie is not one you've bought. It's a dozen that you've made.
My mum refuses to make any before advent sunday or after epiphany. She makes lots in between!

Will she adopt me for Christmas?
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Edith
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You need to add a little grated apple to the mincemeat to make it good. In addition to soaking the raisins in booze. And make your pastry really, really short.

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AberVicar
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Greggs mince pies are excellent - only surpassed by fresh ones made at home.

(Added: it helps that Greggs have moved to opposite the Vicarage side gate... [Razz] )

[ 10. December 2012, 20:01: Message edited by: AberVicar ]

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Niminypiminy
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I think the secret, with home made mince pies anyway, is to make them small - a mere treaspoon of mincemeat in each, so that each mince pie is a mouthful of buttery, crisp pastry with a small burst of ntense mincemeat flavour.

After years of not very satisfactory home made mincemeat, I've decided the way forward is to gussy up a jar of bought - you add more raisins, grated apple, spice, grated ginger, glacé cherries, candied peel and lemon zest and such like, together with brown sugar and brandy. Then you put the resulting mixture back into two or more sterilised jars. I don't know why this is better than purely home made stuff, but it is. (Oh, yes, a good addition is also frozen butter, grated in.)

[ 10. December 2012, 21:53: Message edited by: Niminypiminy ]

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balaam

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Your mother's pies are always the best.

My mother used rum, not brandy to preserve the fruit. I think it's better, it is certainly different.

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jedijudy

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Mince pies are scarcer than hen's teeth here. It's my very, very favorite pie in the world! Mom used to make pies with Nonesuch filling. Not bad for store bought. D-U tried unsuccessfully to get one for Thanksgiving. Most places had never heard of a mince pie.

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Graven Image
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Another Nonesuch fan here. I use two jars per pie, and add brandy soaked apple pieces before baking.
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jedijudy

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Two per pie is right, Graven Image ! I like the brandy soaked apple idea.

We used to be able to get the boxed version that needed to be boiled with orange juice or apple juice to rehydrate it. Good times.

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Sparrow
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Costa Coffee do quite a nice one at this time of year, it's an open, flat pie, the mincemeat isn't too sweet and the pastry is nice and crisp.

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marzipan
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quote:
Originally posted by Truman White:
quote:
Originally posted by cheesymarzipan:
the best mince pie is not one you've bought. It's a dozen that you've made.
My mum refuses to make any before advent sunday or after epiphany. She makes lots in between!

Will she adopt me for Christmas?
I'm not sure if she makes so many now we've left home. My dad can't quite eat so many on his own.

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ArachnidinElmet
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quote:
Originally posted by Sioni Sais:
btw, does anyone else make them with a macaroon style topping? Try it.

We have frangipane topped pie. Yum. Laziness occasionally dictates making it in one big tin as a cut-and-come-again, although I believe in these parts they should be manger-shaped for true believers.

Re: buying pies. I've not had them, but Lidl has tasty versions of other baked Christmas goods: stollen etc.

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Gill H

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Lido and Aldi are German so I expect they would have good stollen. Sadly I don't live near a branch.

We haven't made mincemeat this year, but we usually use Delia's recipe. Hugal makes 'Hungarian paste' - pastry with a little brandy and cream in the mix.

(Mental note to self: make mincemeat early in autumn 2014 to take to jedijudy during our next Orlando trip...!)

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Jigsaw
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quote:
Originally posted by St. Gwladys:
Waitrose in Abergavenny have mincemeat and ginger tarts - open mince pies made with ginger pastry and topped with stem ginger. Mmmmm....
They also have meringue topped mince tarts which look good.

And they taste good too!
Making your own? A friend of mine, Sister Bernadette, gave me a recipe which started: "Have ready a large glass of white wine/gin and tonic/sherry. Take large slurps between each step of the instructions."
I never got to the end of the recipe but ended up very happy before staggering out the next day to the supermarket for ready-made ones.

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SvitlanaV2
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A few years ago one of the newspapers made a comparison of mince pies from different supermarkets. I can't remember the exact outcome, but I think it was a shocker - Aldi or Lidl, rather than M&S or Waitrose. If you're willing to splash out, you could do your own little survey with, say, five boxes from different shops, and see how they compare.
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jedijudy

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quote:
Originally posted by Gill H:
(Mental note to self: make mincemeat early in autumn 2014 to take to jedijudy during our next Orlando trip...!)

Yes!!! [Yipee]

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la vie en rouge
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Personally I'm pretty excited to able to get hold of mincemeat at all. Once again I thank the Almighty for the arrival of Marks & Sparks on the Champs Elysées. I don't think I could even make my own, because I don't know where I'd get suet from. I am going to make my own pastry tho.

On Sunday afternoon some French people are coming round my house to practise the cello. I am going to initiate them into one of the joys of an English Christmas. [Smile]

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Hawk

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I've just had my works do at Jamie's in Oxford (a chain restaurant by Jamie Oliver). The mince pies there were incredible. Seriously not for the traditionalist though, they were done with crispy filo pastry, and fruit all mixed into the layers - more like a danish pastry than an English pie. I loved them!

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Quinquireme
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If you make your own, add a couple of egg yolks, some ground almonds and lemon zest to the pastry. Yum!
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Firenze

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Some TV chefs were making a version with orange zest and juice in the pastry, which sounds worth a whirl.

It's entirely possible I have a jar of mincemeat in the cupboard from last year's good - but unrealised - intentions.

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Latchkey Kid
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quote:
Originally posted by Niminypiminy:
I think the secret, with home made mince pies anyway, is to make them small - a mere treaspoon of mincemeat in each, so that each mince pie is a mouthful of buttery, crisp pastry with a small burst of ntense mincemeat flavour.

I do something like this for our hot Christmases where we don't need heavy foods for cold weather.
I use puff pastry so that each pie is just one light puffy mouthful.

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AngloCatholicGirl
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Just to say I normally use the recipe on BBC Food for my mincemeat, one year I couldn't get hold of any suet so I used margarine (yes really) instead and the mincemeat tasted the best ever. I always make my mincemeat using margarine now.

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Belle Ringer
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quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
Home made. Made with a dash of brandy and orange zest [Smile]

Recipe please?

As a kid I loved mince meat but in recent decades they've gotten sweeter and sweeter, and no longer contain any suet.

[ 12. December 2012, 15:07: Message edited by: Belle Ringer ]

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Anything without candied peel in it. Candied peel is made by collecting the bits chipped off of Satan's feet when he visits the podiatrist.

[ 12. December 2012, 15:15: Message edited by: Karl: Liberal Backslider ]

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Sioni Sais
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Anything without candied peel in it. Candied peel is made by collecting the bits chipped off of Satan's feet when he visits the podiatrist.

Seconded. Unless you make your own or it is of the very best quality, such as is used in tutti frutti ice cream and costs about £5 per 100 grams, replace it with dried apricots.

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Chorister

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Mine. But you have to bid at the church Auction of Promises if you want to buy them. This year they would have set you back a pretty penny - a dozen went for £25 by the time the hammer came down. Better settle for these instead.

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Boogie

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Anything without candied peel in it. Candied peel is made by collecting the bits chipped off of Satan's feet when he visits the podiatrist.

Agreed - YUK!

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balaam

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
A few years ago one of the newspapers made a comparison of mince pies from different supermarkets. I can't remember the exact outcome, but I think it was a shocker - Aldi or Lidl, rather than M&S or Waitrose. If you're willing to splash out, you could do your own little survey with, say, five boxes from different shops, and see how they compare.

It depends on the paper that did the survey.

The Torygraph says M&S are best.
Grauniad says Waitrose.
Independent say Tesco.

Could it be that the politics of the paper is more important than the flavour when making a decision.

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balaam

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quote:
Originally posted by Sioni Sais:
replace it with dried apricots.

That's going from bad to worse.

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Chorister

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Given that you can make your own pastry fairly easily, perhaps the question should be: 'Which mincemeat to buy?' This year I'm trying Buckfast Tonic Wine Mincemeat for the first time. Will keep you posted as to what it's like.

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Ariel
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quote:
Originally posted by balaam:
It depends on the paper that did the survey.

The Torygraph says M&S are best.
Grauniad says Waitrose.
Independent say Tesco.

As with any supermarket, though, there's a bit of difference between the Value/Basic Mince Pies and the Finest/Best Mince Pies. We don't know what they sampled for the purposes of the survey - I think we should be told.

Personally I prefer puff pastry. They usually skimp on the filling in shortcrust ones, and you get more pastry than mincemeat. The M&S lattice ones are nice, though.

(Somewhere out there is the Perfect Mince Pie and I'll just have to persevere until I locate it...)

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Inanna

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I made these mince pie cookies last weekend, with doctored Cross & Blackwell mincemeat (all I could find in the States) and they were absolutely yummy. All the best bits of a mince pie - very buttery, crisp pastry, and the mincemeat flavour, with a lot less faff. Small cookies worked better than larger ones - one or two bites - because they are so very rich.

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Mr Curly

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Maybe not for the best mince pies, but last year I made a Mince Pie Icecream Triangle Log. (recipe and photo here)

Delicious. And during the year, I won a photo competition with the picture of it!

mr curly

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Firenze

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Purely in the interests of research, I'm eating one of Sainsbury's Orange & Cranberry mince pies. Definitely an acidic note to the mincemeat and a strong orange flavour. But obviously I'll have to do comparison tasting with the brandy flavoured ones, plus an Ecclefechan tart to give a definitive ruling.
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Keren-Happuch

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This is the best mincemeat recipe I've found after a lot of experimentation. Wonderfully moist and boozy. Doesn't much matter what the pastry's like with this inside it! I do like a frangipane or crumble topping though as it's lighter. Or even marzipan.

Hettie Potter's Suet-Free Mincemeat

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Truman White
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quote:
Originally posted by balaam:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
A few years ago one of the newspapers made a comparison of mince pies from different supermarkets. I can't remember the exact outcome, but I think it was a shocker - Aldi or Lidl, rather than M&S or Waitrose. If you're willing to splash out, you could do your own little survey with, say, five boxes from different shops, and see how they compare.

It depends on the paper that did the survey.

The Torygraph says M&S are best.
Grauniad says Waitrose.
Independent say Tesco.

Could it be that the politics of the paper is more important than the flavour when making a decision.

Sounds like a good survey to take part in. How many of each do I need to eat to make sure its statistically valid?

[ 15. December 2012, 09:43: Message edited by: Truman White ]

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Belle Ringer
Shipmate
# 13379

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quote:
Originally posted by Keren-Happuch:
This is the best mincemeat recipe I've found after a lot of experimentation. Wonderfully moist and boozy...

Hettie Potter's Suet-Free Mincemeat

The recipe says "very alcoholic apple flavour actually as it contains both cider and brandy." Showing my ignorance: it has only a few tablespoons of brandy, is that the "lots of alcohol" or is the cider alcoholic? (I guess some liquor stores might have hard cider?)
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Lothlorien
Ship's Grandma
# 4927

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Belle Ringer,
To me the word "cider" means it is alcoholic. Otherwise it's known as sparkling apple juice.

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Ariston
Insane Unicorn
# 10894

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I think the States is the only place where "cider" is assumed to be non-alcoholic (though, usually, also spiced, and, just as often, hot).

The States is also a mince pie desert. I think I've only ever had them once, at an archer's Christmas party when I was studying in Oxford. Seeing as that party ended in me stumbling down High Street with a bowl of mince pies with a paper crown and eye patch from a cracker before losing my taste for ruby port forever . . . well, yeah. I think it's high time I had more mince pies.

One problem ruling out homemade, though: my mother absolutely hates mince pies. Can't see the point, just has bad memories of them, even ones made from good recipes. While I realize any mince pie she would have had would almost certainly have been hooch-free, her position on mincemeat pies is unequivocal. How do I get my mince pie fix before/during my time at home for Christmas without violating her "no making mincemeat in my kitchen!" rule? In other words, can you get good mince pies in the mid-Atlantic?

Please help. There may have been only one good thing to happen that night, but that part needs to happen again.

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“Therefore, let it be explained that nowhere are the proprieties quite so strictly enforced as in men’s colleges that invite young women guests, especially over-night visitors in the fraternity houses.” Emily Post, 1937.

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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Heating - and spicing - cider sounds mildly evil to me. But then I like a very dry cider, preferably a varietal like Katy. At 7.4% ABV it's quite strong - most commercial UK ciders would be in the 4 - 5% range.
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Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Ariston:
I think the States is the only place where "cider" is assumed to be non-alcoholic (though, usually, also spiced, and, just as often, hot).

Cider didn't count as alcohol when I was at Taize about fifteen years ago.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Belle Ringer
Shipmate
# 13379

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When I was a kid you'd buy a jug of "apple cider" meaning apple juice with the "meat" of the apple in it, not clarified juice, let it sit a bit and have hard cider. Now they put something in it to prevent turning.

Last night I surfed about cider and saw that in USA it used to be the most popular workman's drink, no one is sure why it is uncommon anymore, prohibition was anti all alcohol so it wouldn't be that. One page thinks the beer industry worked to kill the cider industry, beer being the primary competitor.

What's the alcohol percentage of standard cider? I have some "hard cider" from the beer section of the grocery, it's 3.2. That doesn't sound boozy enough to be a good preservative or get people interested in the booze aspect of mince pie.

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