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Traditional Christmas Pudding

Note: another recipe from Kryten in comments.

This very old fashioned recipe uses suet and has no sugar, so is diabetic friendly. 🙂
September to November is the perfect time to make this Christmas pudding.


  • 250 grams sultanas
  • 250 grams raisins
  • 250 grams currants (or substitute figs)
  • 250 grams mixed peel (or substitute prunes)
  • 3/4 cup of nice port (or substitute Irish stout)
  • 3 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 250 grams chilled suet
  • 125 grams plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 250 grams fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or to taste) of each: mace, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.


  1. Combine all fruits with some port and allow to steep, covered in a ceramic bowl for min 12 hours or up to a week (longer is better).
  2. Combine flour, spices and breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Coarsely grate suet into dry mix. Add fruit with any remaining juices and eggs.
  3. Stir well. (Tradition dictates that each member of the family take a turn to stir and makes a wish for the coming year).
  4. Dust a square of clean unbleached calico with flour, heap pudding mixture into the middle then gather up cloth and tie it securely with string leaving a strong loop that the pudding can later hang from.
  5. Steam the pudding in a large soup pan (or large boiler, kettle) of just simmering water for 6 hours. Ensure the base of the pudding does not come into contact with the bottom of the pan, either sit it on an upturned saucer or sit it in a free standing colander within the pot, or suspend from a piece of wood across the top of the boiler (pan).
  6. Suspend the pudding in a cool, dry position to mature for a minimum 3 weeks to 6 months.


On Christmas day, steam as before for 2 – 2.5 hours.

Notes for Americans:

Get a scale and use it. Most of the rest of the world cooks by weight, so it gives you access to a lot more recipes.

British puddings are steamed dough, like American dumplings.

Sultanas are sold as golden raisins in the US.

Suet is beef fat [lard is pork fat]. Some people substitute unsalted butter, but you need to freeze it so it will grate like suet, and it doesn’t taste the same.

Mixed peel is candied citrus fruit peel.

There are molds that can be used, but you still need cloth. The cloth needs to be unbleached linen or cotton to stand up to the boiling and not impart anything to the pudding.

This is normally prepared on the first Sunday of Advent, but it would be better if it were prepared earlier, like the Labor Day weekend. The flavors need the time to meld, like making wine or cheese.

Many people in Britain put a sprig of holly on top and pour brandy over it to present it flambé at the table. You can pour clotted cream, crème fraîche, etc. on the individual servings.

Another tradition it to put a coin in the pudding which is supposed to denote luck. This has been introduced to the Mardi Gras King cake. No need to go into the origin of this practice – it just upsets people to be reminded how these hallowed traditions started.


1 Kryten42 { 12.24.09 at 11:04 pm }

Thanks Bryan, and thanks muchly for the added comments! 😀

I should have mentioned the suet thing myself actually! Glad you caught that. 🙂

Also, it REALLY need’s a good brandy custard on top (which is traditional). 🙂
Here’s a recipe (I should also have added) for that:

300ml milk
300ml pouring cream
1 vanilla bean – split length ways
8 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
60ml of your favorite brandy

1. Combine milk, cream and vanilla bean in a sauce pan – bring just to the boil and remove from the heat.
2. Beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale – whisk in strained cream mixture.
3. Transfer mixture to a double sauce pan or heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water – stir until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
5. Add brandy and cool to room temperature

Suggestion: More Brandy!

Apologies for the omissions all! 🙂

Well, at least you have plenty of time to prepare for next Christmas. 😉 😆

2 Bryan { 12.25.09 at 1:11 am }

There is no way for you to know what Americans don’t know, so I translated.

Golden raisins aren’t identical to sultanas because of a slightly different variety of grapes used, and the difference in the growing and processing conditions, but you will play hell finding the real Turkish variety in the US.

I’ll append the sauce to the recipe, so the post will stand alone.

3 Kryten42 { 12.25.09 at 1:16 am }

There is no way for you to know what Americans don’t know…

OK… I’m ashamed (almost) to admit that that REALLY made me Laugh!!! 😆

Ahhh… it is indeed a perfect day! 😉 😀 Ta muchly! 😆

Ahem! Sorry… 😉 Anyway… I am pretty sure that Australian Sultana’s (Much better than Turkish!!) are available in the USA. try, Sunrasia. I know they export there. 🙂

4 Kryten42 { 12.25.09 at 1:29 am }

Oops! Sorry… Sunrasia is the region they grow in (not far from where I live now actually!) LOL

One of the main saltana (or Table Grape companies) are Sunbeam. 🙂

Simply Australian: Cooking Supplies (USA)

Saltana’s etc will be expensive next year! The early Spring heatwave destroyed upto 50% of some crops this year! 🙁

Oh well… 🙂

5 Bryan { 12.25.09 at 12:07 pm }

You are probably growing the proper variety of grapes, and not a close hybrid. The American variety isn’t as big or sweet as the standard sultanas in Europe.

Many of the recipes call for halving the sultanas. Good luck with that if you aren’t into microsurgery. I suspect they are picking early, which would account for the smaller size and less sugar.

That which is available in large cities, is not necessarily available to all Americans. Try finding decent cheese in any US city of less than 1 million people, or that grew up after World War II.

You can expect a lot of shortages next year, but most will be hidden by the crummy economy.