Fruit Cake? Are You Crazy?, by NMSourdough

Why in the world are you writing an article about fruit cake? Is it just because of Christmas? No, there are good reasons for writing about fruit cake and how it can supplement your food supplies. (I started the article during the Christmas season and have been delayed in completing it.)

“Crazy Like A Fox” Fruit Cake Rations

Well, believe it or not, fruit cake should be, or at least could be, a part of your rations to keep you going during difficult times. Whether it is a hurricane, a blizzard, an EMP, economic collapse, or an attack of zombies, a fruit cake can help you to survive.

Oh, sure. What? Do you throw the fruit cake at the zombies, or shoot it out of a cannon or something?

No. You eat it. What!?! Eat fruit cake? You are crazy! Yeah, crazy like a fox.

Fruit cakes have undergone a lot of jokes over the years, but you may not know why there are fruit cakes.

A Brief History of Fruit Cakes

There is some interesting history on how fruits cakes came about. Once upon a time, especially in northern Europe, the northern parts of the United States, and in Canada, during the hard winter months fresh fruits were not available. At that time, there was not the current world-wide trade, which brings in fruits and produce from other parts of the world that are in season. There was no refrigeration, and you couldn’t get canned or frozen fruit in whole form or as juice. We are talking about in the 1800s, when fruit cake was becoming more than a regional, popular Christmas treat.

Fruit Cake in Ancient Egypt

Fruit cake was supposedly in ancient Egypt. According to some historians, they think that fruit cake or something very similar to it, was not only eaten but also considered a burial gift, so that the deceased would have a lasting food to take with them into the next life. I do not know that there is a lot of evidence to support this idea, but it seems possible that something along the lines of a fruit cake could have been a part of life in ancient Egypt. That it will last a long time, there is no doubt.

Earliest Known Recipe

The earliest known recipe for fruit cake goes back to ancient Rome. The recipe called for pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins to be mixed into a barley mash.[1] This sounds a bit more like oatmeal, but it was actually baked as a cake. No, I don’t think it is the same fruit cake that gets passed around every year, as even one of our modern fruit cakes would dry out after 1500 years. Fruit cake was also used by the Roman legions as a ration, as it lasted a long time and provided the nutrients needed to supplement the soldier’s daily dietary needs. “As an energy source it was extremely efficient. Pomegranate seeds pack 234 calories per cup, while raisins provide 435 calories per cup. Both pale in comparison to pine nuts which weigh in at 916 calories per cup.”[2]

During the Crusades, fruit cake went along with the armies heading to the Middle East as a supplement to their daily meals and as a treat, since it was not always practical to try and make desserts during the long travel to the Middle East.

The English and Europe in the 1400s through 1700s

Jump forward to the 1400s. The English had started adding dried fruits to their cakes that were being brought in through trade with Mediterranean countries. So, we can blame the English for starting the fruit cake craze.

Jump forward again to 1700s Europe, when nuts were being baked into the fruit cakes as a way to celebrate the Fall harvest. The cakes would be kept a year and eaten prior the next year’s harvest as a means to hope for another abundant harvest.

Plum Cakes and Queen Victoria– a Fan of Fruit Cake

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, plum cakes had become very popular but were actually outlawed because they were “sinfully rich”.[1] By the mid-1800s, fruit cakes were becoming increasingly popular in England. Queen Victoria was having them served with afternoon tea. So fond of fruit cake was Queen Victoria that it “is said she waited a year to eat a fruitcake she received for her birthday because she felt it showed restraint, moderation and good taste.[1]” Fruit cake was so popular in England it was being served at weddings, and unmarried guests were expected to take a slice of fruit cake home and put it under their pillows so that they would dream of who they would marry.

Queen Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert was probably partially responsible for her becoming a fan of fruit cakes, as Germany, along with Poland, and other North European countries had also become fond of fruit cake.

Popularity of Fruit Cake in U.S. and Canada

The popularity of fruit cake spread to the U.S. and Canada as more people immigrated to North America, which is why some of you still bake fruit cakes or buy them for friends and family.

Long-Lasting Fruit Cake

A 106 year old fruit cake was discovered by the Antarctic Heritage Trust in Antarctica and was described “as in excellent condition” and “almost” edible[3]. Okay, okay. Many of you think fresh fruit cakes are barely edible, let alone a 106-year old fruit cake. It does show that if properly stored, they will last a long time, at least several years or more.

In modern times, fruit cake was included in C-Rations used by the U.S. military. It is also included in MRE rations as a dessert. It was/is a dessert option that came along with the main protein rations. Regardless of whether you are in a cold or warm climate, if fresh fruit is not available on a regular basis, fruit cake can provide some of the nutrients that you would normally get from having fresh fruit.

Why Fruit Cake Is Good as a Survival Ration

As mentioned above, fruit cake was included in U.S. military C-Rations and is included in MRE rations as well. Fruit cake is actually quite a good source of vitamins and minerals during the winter months. It also has carbohydrates that can help with energy and keep weight on during the cold winter months.

The people of North Europe needed to balance out their diets and to make sure they had enough fruit to get them through the hard winter months. Fruit cake was a good way to do this, and they could enjoy it as a dessert. They baked fruit cakes, and yes, they also canned and preserved, though fruit cakes were more than just a one item dessert or addition to a meal.

What Fruit To Put In It

Pretty much any fruit can be put into a fruit cake, and sometimes the more the better. You can put in cherries, grapes, pineapple, lemons, limes, cranberries, strawberries, blackberries, and currants; you name it, and you can add it in. Many use candied or dried fruits, and some use various citrus juices in lieu of dried or candied fruit. You can also add raisins, dates, figs, plums, and any nuts you like, such as walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, et cetera.

What Else Goes In?

Guess what else goes in? Usually a generous amount of your favorite adult beverage! Yes, traditionally rum, brandy, and whiskey are used. However, what you put in, depends on what you like! Additionally, you can also, along with all the regular basic seasonings, add in nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar, molasses, coconut, and just about anything else you like as seasonings.

Between all these ingredients along with the milk, eggs, and butter, you have a source of food that is very rich in vitamins and minerals, not to mention some protein as well. It also stores well, and if stored properly can last quite a long time, as mentioned earlier in the article.

Rations That Last

Many talk about how to get rations that will last and keep them going during times of difficulty. There is no reason to not put fruit cake on your list of possible items that can help you survive long periods of time without the ease of being able to go and get what you want at your local store.

So, you may want to consider having a few fruit cakes around (other than the in-laws and other relatives), as they could come in handy. If you run out of ammunition, you can always strap the fruit cake to a broomstick or baseball bat and bludgeon the zombies to death!

Recipes

Recipes are plentiful on the Internet. Some of you may have family recipes that can be used, should you decide that fruit cake may be a good addition to your rations. You can also find how to make fruit cakes in many cookbooks and in specific cookbooks for desserts and for fruit cake.

Some Food For Thought

I’ve talked about fruit cake history and real reasons for using it in your rations, but there are some good fruit cake jokes. I’m sharing a few below:

TOP 10 USES FOR HOLIDAY FRUITCAKES[4]
  1. Use slices to balance that wobbly kitchen table.
  2. Use instead of sand bags during El Nino.
  3. Send to U.S. Air Force, to use as bombs.
  4. Use as railroad ties.
  5. Use as speed bumps to foil the neighborhood drag racers.
  6. Collect ten and use them as bowling pins.
  7. Use as reinforcements for fence posts.
  8. Save for next summer’s garage sale.
  9. Use slices in next skeet-shooting competition.
  10. Two words pin cushion.
A Fruit Cake Recipe (Joke)[5]

If you find yourself stressed about all of the Thanksgiving/Christmas cooking and company, try this sure-fire recipe. I’ve never liked fruitcake, but this recipe has made me change my mind. I discovered after trying this recipe that there isn’t anything better on Friday nights after work than a HUGE slice of this great recipe:

First, you’ll need the following: a cup of water, a cup of sugar, four large brown eggs, two cups of dried fruit, a teaspoon of salt, a cup of brown sugar, lemon juice, nuts, and a bottle of whiskey.

Sample the whiskey to check for quality. Take a large bowl. Check the whiskey again. To be sure it’s the highest quality, our one level cup and drink. Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer, beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar and beat again. Make sure the whiskey is still okay. Cry another tup. Turn off the mixer. Beat two eggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Mix on the tuner.

If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers, pry it loose with a drewscriver. Sample the whiskey to check for tonsisticity. Now sift lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Spoon. Of sugar or something. Whatever you can find. Now, grease the oven. Turn the cake tin to 350 degrees. Don’t forget to beat off the tuner. Throw the bowl out the window. Check the whiskey again and go to bed.

References


[1]https://whatscookingamerica.net/History/Cakes/Fruitcake.htm


[2]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruitcake


[3]https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/08/15/106-year-old-fruit-cake-found-antarctica-looked-and-smelled-edible/569949001/


[4]http://jokes4us.com/holidayjokes/christmasjokes/fruitcakejokes.html


[5]http://www.funny.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/Funny.woa/wa/funny?fn=C20LH&Funny_Jokes=Fruitcake_Recipe

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Round 75 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.




29 Comments

  1. As a fruitcake lover, I agree completely with the article. In fact, the last slice of our home made fruitcake made in Oct. is in the cupboard waiting to be eaten. go slow. You can really pack on the pounds with these.

    1. If you make them according to the recipes that are in cookbooks and online, they will last for quite a while, meaning at least several years. Especially if you put in a generous portion of adult beverage as most recipes call for. The alcohol helps to keep them fresh and from going stale or starting to rot.

  2. Collin Street Bakery fruitcake is delicious, i used to eat one every July, saved from Christmas.

    Here is a soldiers fruitcake story from WW2, a friend of my father’s ( they were both ww2 combat Vets, european theatre, and both raised in the depression)

    One Christmas during the war in Germany my dads friend Frank received a package in a wood box from a United Methodist Church in his hometown. He pried it open and discvered it was a commercially made and packaged fruitcake. He immediately hid it in a stone wall in the woods near their headquarters ( for some reason they were off the front lines for 2 weeks for rest and new clothes, lucky being Christmas). On Christmas Eve he gathered his 3 best friends and told them to meet him at the end of the stone wall at midnight, bring hot coffee, and be sure they were followed by no one and tell no one. When they asked why he said “just be there at midnight”
    When they showed up, he led them into the woods, removed the hidden package and opened it up. They were dumbstruck, they couldnt speak for a full minute, just looking at a real cake from “home”. he told them to pour the coffee and one of them, his voice choking up said to him” why in the world would you SHARE that with any one and not just eat it all yourself?”
    Without a word, Frank pulled out his bayonet, cut the cake in 4 large pieces and said “Merry Christmas”
    Frank said it was excellent, and it was a Christmas memory he would never forget.

  3. Claxton Fruit Cake is the best! You can get a three pack at Sam’s in the season! Forget half of one in your frig until June and you can get a buzz eating it. Built in self defense of someone tries taking it from you. Just wack ’em.

  4. A friend was stuck in a snow drift for almost a week while driving to customers. A customer of his had just given him a rum soaked fruit cake as a gift. He commented that at the end of the week he never wanted to eat another piece of fruit cake again. After some thought, he also made sure he had a fruit cake in his emergency stash when he was on the road in the winter.

  5. This article fired up some old memories. We grew up poor but didn’t quite know it as a blessing. Grandma worked cleaning homes of wealthy people one of whom would (perhaps regift) give her a fruitcake every Christmas season. It was a treat and we didn’t realize such things were considered in the light that they are until much later.

    Years later as an Infantryman I secretly enjoyed my fruitcake MRE even if it did have that MRE taste added in. I recall that none of my soldiers ever complained about them although toward the end of my career they seemed to have disappeared from the menu. It was reliable. That main entree of chicken and rice could freeze in your pack forcing you to eat it on the move like a popcicle but the fruitcake was always edible and fortifying at anytime of the day.

  6. I have been experimenting too with making loaf cakes with dried fruit to use up all the dried fruit. I didn’t think of it as a fruit cake – but that’s what it turned out to be. Very tasty and nutritious!

  7. I make fresh fruitcake every two years or so and in significant quantities. This year’s result was 15 small loaf pans worth. I wrap them in cheesecloth and bathe them with brandy putting them in quart freezer bags to keep all the alcoholic goodness inside. The bagged cakes are stored in tins (popcorn type)and consigned to my root cellar. It took two bottles of brandy this year and I have to rotate the containers occasionally to keep the liquid from pooling. I have eaten my product when it was 7 years old and couldn’t tell the difference between it and a 3 year old batch. If you wait until after Christmas, most big grocers mark down the candied fruit radically – I picked up 12 lbs this year for $15. Can’t get enough of this stuff but it sure bumps up one’s caloric intake.

  8. Our deep pantry includes a dozen 5-pound fruitcakes from Beatricebakery.com bakery. Some have been on the shelf as long as ten, yes, I said TEN years. We periodically open the oldest one, pour a half cup of brandy over it, put the lid back on and about a week later… Um! My oh my is that good!

    You might have seen the Beatrice Bakery “Grandma’s Fruit and Nut Ring” at Cebela’s.

  9. What an enjoyable article! I was never a fan until I tasted Collin Street’s. The one with extra nuts-yummy! My cousin is insane about the stuff, and probably goes through one a week with her morning coffee. It is good to know that there is something home cooks can do to further fortify their pantries!

    1. Try some of the ones mentioned above, or if your wife or any other female friend has their grandmothers cookbooks, try some of the old recipes as they tend to always be good. Not that the more current recipes aren’t good too but their just seems to be something special about old family recipes!

  10. Excellent and useful article. I did not know fruitcake lasted so long. My memory took me to pemmican as long term storage food. I will definitely be putting some aside into storage. Also enjoyed the comments.

  11. The History Channel did a series of episodes a few years ago titled “LIFE AFTER PEOPLE”. One episode featured fruitcake and scientists determined that a fruitcake could possibly last more than 1,000 years. They simply don’t know.

  12. burp. I ran out of whiskey before I could finish the recipe. Can’t drive to the store for more and too far to crawl. What can I use as an alternative to burp whiskey. Oh noo where’s the bucket. Please! Stop mentioning food!

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