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FARM FRESH FRUIT CAKE

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It is national fruitcake month, and what better way to celebrate the traditional holiday pastry than with some fun facts! The fruitcake has a long history full of interesting facts, and a long list of fans, too! So without further ado, here are some fun facts (that I’m sure you never knew) about fruitcake!

  • The first references to fruitcake were from the time of the Egyptions and the Romans when they would combine pomegranate seeds, raisins, and pine nuts to create their perfect loaf. Although no one really knows who made the first fruitcake or when exactly it was made. However, because fruitcake is dense and packed with calories, it was perfect for our hunter gatherer ancestors and has always been a part of our culinary history.
  • Egyptians thought so much about fruitcake that they put them in the tombs with their loved ones because they thought the fruitcake would survive the long journey to the afterlife.
  • One of the reasons fruitcakes were treasured throughout our history was because they were an efficient way to preserve food for long journeys and bitter winters. The long shelf life of a fruitcake meant that cakes could be baked in the summer and fall and used to supplement food stores over the entire winter.
  • It seems the British are big fans of fruitcake, and they have been since 1400s, when dried fruit found its way to the British Isles from the Mediterranean.
  • Fruitcake is more than just fruity, it’s also nutty! In order to be a proper fruitcake, it must contain nuts and the standard red and green candied fruits and it must be soaked in some kind of alcohol like rum or brandy.
  • Nut growers used to bake fruitcakes at the end of one growing season and then wait until the end of the next season before eating them in order to ensure good luck and a successful harvest.
  • In England, there used to be a custom where the night of a wedding, when unmarried wedding guests went home, they would put a piece of fruitcake under their pillow when they slept to have dreams of the person they would marry.
  • Fruitcake was served at the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, as well as the weddings of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, and their son, Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton.
  • Fruitcake can be aged for a very long time before it is eaten and there have been reports of cake that is over 25 years old still being consumable! This type of cake has an extraordinarily long shelf life due to the alcohol preservatives it contains. They also get better with age. Fresh fruitcake should sit and ripen for at least a month before it can be eaten and unlike most cake and bread, fruitcake only gets better with time.
  • Although some fruitcakes are aged for a very long time (like you learned above) before eaten, even fruitcake will get stale if you store it too long or if it is stored improperly. Resurrect your fruitcake by steaming it which will bring back the flavor and the moisture.
  • Two different towns, Corsicana, Texas and Claxton, Georgia, both claim to be the fruitcake capital of the world.

Fruitcake is not as loved as it should be, and I don’t know why, but people seem really disgusted by the stuff. It’s just fruity and sugary goodness wrapped up into a little loaf, nothing to be afraid of. I think this year we should change the stereotype that is fruitcake, and turn it into a holiday tradition that people actually take seriously. And the good thing? Because fruitcake gets better with age, you can make one for the next holiday season now!

Written in part by Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern | FillYourPlate.org

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