2019-12-12 https://totallychefs.com/articles/10-things-you-never-knew-about-christmas-pudding TotallyChefs 448 448 Jennifer Christmas lunch isn't over until we've had at least one serving of the stodgy, spiced pudding, laden with butter and suet, that is Christmas pudding - the

10 things you never knew about Christmas pudding

10 things you never knew about Christmas pudding

shared by Jennifer

Where did the tradition start?

Recipes for old plum pudding have existed in some form or another since the 17th century and it all started with something called 'plum pottage'; a festive staple since the Middle Ages. This was a thick porridge like substance, studded with dried fruits and flavoured with spices.

Why is it called plum pudding? Does it contain plums?

Often referred to as 'plum pudding', the recipe for Christmas pud has in fact never called for plums at all. The word "plum" in fact refers to dried fruit of any variety; whether dates, prunes, sultanas or currants.

Why is mincemeat called mincemeat?

Although mincemeat no longer actually contains meat (thank god), the word recalls its origins as a meat dish. Back in the days of yore, meat was a fundamental ingredient within Christmas pud. Pudding or 'pottage' would consist of meat broth, spices, dried fruit and breadcrumbs.

Why the bizarre blend of spices with meat and dried fruit?

Spices and dried fruit were both expensive, exotic ingredients brought to Britain with the Crusaders returning from the Mediterranean. Their expense meant they were used during special occasions and as a result they became popular additions to dishes in which they were quite unusual. Combining meat with dried fruit or "plums" would enable it to keep for longer.

Why do we light Christmas pudding?

It's said that the flaming brandy represents the Passion of Christ and traditionally there were 13 ingredients in the pudding, said to represent Christ's 13 disciples. We always thought the garnish of holly on top was a nod toward festive decoration and cheer, but some say it represents the crown of thorns.

Has Christmas pudding ever been banned?

Well, funny you should ask, because yes it has... In the 17th century Thomas Cromwell is said to have banned the eating of Christmas Pudding along with all festive merriment from carols to carousing. How very dare he! In a bid to tackle festive gluttony and restore Christmas to its religious roots, it was suggested that instead of a feast day, Christmas should rather be a fast day. Amazing how much difference one little 'e' can make. Luckily, when Charles II came into power, Christmas was reinstated. Phew!

What is Stir-up Sunday?

A proper boozy Christmas pudding (is there any other kind?!) should be impregnated with alcohol over time before being coated in marzipan and icing, so must be made weeks in advance… Around five weeks before Christmas day (on the last Sunday before the advent to be precise), the Christmas pudding mixture should be prepared and each member of the family should stir the mixture and make a wish whilst doing so.

Why do we add coins to Christmas pudding?

It seems a little odd doesn't it? Adding hard metal to an expensive dessert. Those with fillings should stay well away. Despite the expensive dental work necessary after accidentally breaking your tooth on a mouthful of pudding, adding a silver sixpence to the mix was said to bring the finder a year of good luck.

What does the Christmas pudding represent?

Spices, sweet meats, dried fruits; many of the traditional ingredients of Christmas pudding were sourced from across the commonwealth and the dish, in many ways, represents the British nation itself. In 1850, London Illustrated News described the plum pudding as a "national symbol". They say, "It does not represent class or caste, but the bulk of the English nation." Well, we never knew that.

How did it eventually become Christmas pudding as we know it today?

Through time, the 'pottage' mixture became thicker and thicker, until eventually people began to wrap the sticky mass in a pudding cloth and boil it for several hours.

Like many of our modern day festive traditions, Christmas pudding as we know it today was introduced by the Victorians. In A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens eternalised the dish when he depicts Mrs Cratchit "Smiling proudly with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top."

Mrs Beeton's book of Household Management, published in 1861, was an authority on festive fare, in it there is a recipe for and illustration of Christmas plum pudding, which is clearly recognizable as the pudding we still enjoy today.

So, this Christmas day as you're tucking into your pudding, know you'll be partaking in an age old festive tradition.