A recipe for Pine and Sloe Gin Mincepies from Liz Knight of Forage Fine Foods

Liz Knight (3)Liz Knight of Forage Fine Foods will be on the chef dem stage in the market hall from 12.30 – 1.00pm as part of our Christmas Food & Drink Fair entertainment on Sunday 14 December. The topic of her dem will be ‘A Wild Christmas: Festive Cooking with Pine’. Meanwhile here’s her recipe for Pink & Sloe Gin Mince Pies.


I love spring’s neon green flavours, summers perfumed blooms, autumns laden fruit & nut trees. But most of all, I love Christmas. From the moment the first buds of spring start turning from angry clenched fists to wide open welcoming hands, I am thinking about and gathering for the biggest feast of the year. And every year our mincemeat is the grand culmination of the best flavours gathered from those first green days of spring onwards.

This spring I made a bottle of beech leaf & pine gin. Since May this little bottle has sat next to the remnants of last years sloe gin, waiting to be turned into something to do justice to the aromatic flavour that could ruin the most puritanical of mothers.

Recently I mixed the piney gin with a slug of syrupy sloe gin, poured the tempting elixir over wet walnuts, russet apples and raisins. The result was tasty: woody, aromatic, fruity and rather boozy. This year’s mincemeat was born – it’s too good to keep to myself  and you can emulate the spring flavours with your Christmas tree.

It’s too late to make beech and pine gin this year (but next spring force some zingy  & sour beech leaves & pine shoots into a 2/3rd filled bottle of gin – you’ll thank me.)

You’ll need:

  • 100g shelled wet walnuts or dried walnuts
  • 250g chopped russet apples (russet apples hold their shape when cooked & are a perfect mincemeat apple)
  • 250g raisins
  • a large sprig of pine*
  • 150ml sloe gin
  • 150ml gin – the more botanical the better.
  • sugar or zyiotol (a delicious sugar free sweetener extracted from birch trees) to taste


  • Chop the walnuts & russet apples until they are the size you like your mincemeat to be (no rules, you know how you like your mouthful).
  • Add them to a bowl with the raisins, pour over the gin, stir in the sweetener & taste to check for sweetness.
  • Press into the mixture a handful of pine sprigs.
  • Cover the mixture.
  • Pour yourself a gin, make a cup of tea, unload the dishwasher (reload the dishwasher with the dishes you just unloaded but look dirtier than when they went in)
  • Wait for a couple of days … tasting every so often.
  • When the fruit is plump & tastes of pine woods take the pine sprigs out &  it’s ready to cook into mincepies that will make you want to eat your Christmas tree.
  • There will be quite alot of liquid left at the bottom of the bowl. What ever you do, don’t throw it away – pour it into a hipflask, go into the woods & drink it with the Whisps.

*You can use pine needles from douglas fir, scots pine  and spruce. Just remember not to mistake Yew trees for pine as they are incredibly toxic & you won’t see Christmas out let alone the New Year in if you nibble on Yew leaves. *

Forage Fine Foods will have a stall in the Market Hall.


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