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. 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.”
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”. 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.” 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. 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 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
- Use slices to balance that wobbly kitchen table.
- Use instead of sand bags during El Nino.
- Send to U.S. Air Force, to use as bombs.
- Use as railroad ties.
- Use as speed bumps to foil the neighborhood drag racers.
- Collect ten and use them as bowling pins.
- Use as reinforcements for fence posts.
- Save for next summer’s garage sale.
- Use slices in next skeet-shooting competition.
- Two words pin cushion.
A Fruit Cake Recipe (Joke)
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.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 75 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
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.