Curious food #16: Empress Mincemeat

23 Dec

This week’s food is not particularly curious, other than the fact that mincemeat is a fundamentally curious food, but it is a historic, pretty tin, and it is seasonal!


The main ingredient in mincemeat is suet, “the solid white fat found around the kidneys and loins of beef, sheep and other animals.” Well, OK,  that does seem a bit curious.


The ship pictured on the tin is the RMS Empress of Britain II, and the tin likely dates from the 1930s since the ship sailed from 1931 to 1940. (No, there is no mincemeat left in the tin).

Here is a beautiful archival photograph of the ship being built.


(sadly, the link for this photo no longer exists)

Besides mincemeat, The Empress Manufacturing Co. of Vancouver, BC also produced and packaged jams, jellies and spices. The Empress of Britain II began its life as a Canadian Pacific passenger ship. It was sunk in service in WWII.


The Empress of Britain II was the largest, fastest and most luxurious passenger ship of her time for the Canadian route. Nice passenger cabin shown here  – note the vast, decorous space between the beds!


You can see more illustrations from the 1931 -32 world cruise brochure here

If you are looking for a mincemeat pie recipe, here is one from the Empress Grill of Blackpool England (courtesy Gary Bates of the Lindley Group Caterers) . Not related to the Empress Mincemeat tin in any real way other than the words “Empress” and “Mincemeat”, but it came up in my search and it looks really good!

I will end this post with a photograph of a nativity scene that I set up on top of the Cabinet of Food Oddities.  My Grade 4 teacher had plaster casts made of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus that we all painted in school, and it is a tradition in our house to set up my Grade 4 effort every year at Christmas. The cow and angel were later additions. The Humpty  & Dumpty  salt & pepper shakers, who usually sit atop the cabinet (and made an appearance in the Food Curiosity #3 post) seemed to be admiring baby Jesus, so we let them join the group too.


No curious food post next Sunday – I am on holiday! Have yourselves a Merry Little Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Posted by Truly Scrumptious


5 Responses to “Curious food #16: Empress Mincemeat”

  1. swankola December 23, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    Thanks for the history lesson. I want to go on that world tour.

  2. The Erratic Cook December 23, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    So, Humpty and Dumpty in place of wise men…hmmm…ok.
    Mincemeat is one food item that I cannot/willnot eat and now that I know more about the suet/fat, the snow white suet, or is it Snow Whites fat? anyway, thanks for the info – ick.

    • Truly Scrumptious December 23, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

      We run a non-sectarian house, so Humpty and Dumpty are welcome to join the creche. Snow White’s fat – ha ha! Now, that would be valuable 🙂

  3. Mike Kennedy (@mw_kennedy) July 4, 2016 at 5:38 pm #

    I used to make the Mince Meat for Empress Foods. After you had all the fruit cooked. You would add ice to chill it down to an acceptable temperature before adding the suet. This was done to prevent the suet from melting.

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