|Draper's Acres, Saskatchewan, Nov 2018|
Did you see Susanne's lovely post, Too Early to Decorate For Christmas? a couple days ago? I know how she feels because it seems that this year Christmas is starting early. Up here on the Canadian prairies, we have an inch or so of snow covering the landscape which heightens the sense that Christmas is on its way.
This really helps because snow in November inspires me to start my Christmas baking with those goodies like fruitcake that need time for their flavors to meld. And yes, we do love fruitcake in our house. Instead of a large cake or loaf, however, I usually make 4-6 small, personal-size loaves. Wrapped in a clear holiday-themed cellophane bag, they make nice gifts for seniors, get-togethers, as well as sending in "care packages" to distant loved ones. And of course, we eat some.
|Fruitcake made by Anita Mae Draper, Dec 2013|
We don't drink alcohol in our house, so it's always interesting when I go to the store and buy a bottle of brandy for the fruitcake, both to add to the recipe, and then to soak the cheesecloth in before it's wrapped around the loaves, which are then wrapped in tin foil set in the fridge. They'll be unwrapped, soaked and rewrapped every week or two for at least 3 weeks, until needed. If I'm short of time, I'll use my Robin Hood Fabulous Fruitcake recipe which is non-alcoholic and only needs a couple weeks in the fridge to taste wonderful.
|Robin Hood Fabulous Fruitcake made by Anita Mae Draper, Dec 2013|
Fruitcakes are notorious for their long life. It's one of the reasons so many were sent from the home front to loved ones fighting overseas. In a letter from my husband's grandfather, a WW1 sailor, he wrote that he hadn't received any letters from home since setting out on his current "cruise", but that he was still portioning out part of the last fruitcake he'd received months earlier.
Fruitcakes last because they contain preserved foods like dry and candied fruit, and nuts that help to keep bacteria from developing, as does the alcohol and cold storage.
How long does it last under optimum conditions? Well, that's hard to say, but it could be decades. Really. Of course, the quality will diminish over extremely long periods, but you could eat it.
Did you hear about the 106-year-old fruitcake that was found by members of the Antarctic Heritage Trust? Yep. They found it in a hut and although the container was rusted, it was still wrapped in paper and appeared edible. It is believed to have been left behind by the Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott and his team back in 1911. Here's the video about it:
So I have my fruitcake recipe at the ready and will begin baking this week. As mentioned in the comments of Susanne's post, I stored my Christmas CD's somewhere safe about five years ago and haven't found them since, so I'm listening to a holiday music channel on our satellite TV.
But with snow on the ground, holiday music in my ears, and recipe in hand, mouth-watering aromas will soon be escaping from my kitchen.
Thanksgiving Blessings going out to all my American friends wherever you are.
Anita Mae Draper's historical romances are written under the western skies of the Saskatchewan prairie where her love of research and genealogy yield fascinating truths that layer her stories with rich historical details. Anita's contemporary short story, Here We Come A-Wassailing, found in A Cup of Christmas Cheer Volume 4, was a finalist for the Word Guild's 2015 Word Awards. Her novellas are included in Austen in Austin Volume 1, The American Heiress Brides Collection, and The Secret Admirer Romance Collection. Readers can check out Anita's Pinterest boards for a visual idea of her stories to enrich their reading experience. Discover more at:
Website - www.anitamaedraper.com
Pinterest - www.pinterest.com/anitamaedraper/