Traditional English Recipes: Finding Ingredients Abroad

by Stacey
(Pittsburgh, PA)

I live in the States and want to try making an English Christmas Pudding. All of the recipes call for "shredded suet" and "peel", I do not know what either of these things are. Could you tell me what they are and what I can use in place of these things if I am unable to get them in the States.
Thank you,
Southwestern, PA


Suet is beef fat, usually from around the kidneys. It's white, dense and sort of waxy. I believe that it is also called suet in the US and normally, you would look for it at the butcher's or the meat section of your local store.

England's most popular brand is Atora, and this is available in the US from amazon. (clicking the image will take you to the amazon page)

We use it for dumplings, savoury pastries, traditional pie crusts and - of course - mincemeat, mince pies and Christmas pudding.

Personally, I use Atora Vegetable Suet. Not as traditional, perhaps, but lighter and meat-free, so you won't have to worry if one of your guests is Vegetarian. As for taste, I can't tell the difference, nor - so far - has anyone I've cooked for.

Alternatively, I've listed a fat-free Christmas pudding recipe on the site, that you don't need any suet for. The only drawback with this recipe is that it does not keep as well, as the fat acts as a preservative.

As for peel: this is what we call the candied rind of oranges and lemons. Sometimes find it in long sticky strips and sometimes chopped. We use it quite a bit in baking: in mincemeat, mince pies and Christmas pudding it's simply essential, but you can also find it in fruit cakes and various tea breads.

Again, if you cannot find it locally, the good folks at amazon offer Candied Orange Peel from Barry Farm, which looks to be exactly what you want to make mincemeat.

BTW, Amazon also stock a few 'Old English peel' products like the one in the image, but they look rather expensive and have cherries and pineapple and other fruit mixed in, which would not really be traditional. Still, tastes vary and it might be fun to give them a test drive.

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