Sunday, December 15, 2013

Fruitcake Secrets

FRUITCAKE Secrets -- Seedscatterers have not only secrets in the garden, there are secrets in the kitchen. I've been making fruitcake for 50 years. I am about to share with you some of what I know about fruitcake.

Leave candied cherries, candied pineapple pieces and pecans whole. I use a full pound of cherries, a pound of pineapple and a quart of hand shelled pecans. When I arrived in south Georgia in 1961, I was introduced to White Fruitcake and fell in love. White fruitcake has coconut and golden raisins, which are made from white grapes.

Fruitcake is rich and must be sliced thin; that takes care of the chopping and the sliced fruitcake is pretty.

Omit any fruit peel and citron. Citrons are a field weed here. Mr. Floyd Allen used to walk every 40-acre field here in late fall and pick up citrons so they could not grow the following year. I am not a fan of candied fruit peel either unless you candied some kumquats.

Dates are okay if you like dates, my Mother did. She called it Date Nut Cake even though it was full of cherries and pineapple too. Years ago I used to just use Date Bread Mix and add fruit. I gave up mixes since then.

MIL seasoned her fruitcakes by packing them in a 5 gallon lard can with fresh whole apples for weeks. Fruitcake is tasty fresh from the oven, let me tell you. A ripened fruitcake that tastes of apple is better than any spirits soaked fruitcake that I ever ate, if you can wait for one to reach that point.

Homemade vanilla is better than boughten, but if you must buy it, get PURE vanilla, not imitation. It isn't cheap, pure vanilla. Homemade is dear because of the price of vanilla beans which come from a certain  orchid plant, not because of the cheap vodka they're soaked in. My neighbor made Vanilla Flavoring this year. I put about 2 tablespoons in my fruitcake.

I am not posting a recipe. Every year I get out my first fruitcake recipe, scribbled on the back of something with a date on it: 1964. I read that recipe, then I read Miz Jimmie Hatcher's White Fruitcake Recipe, different only in that she didn't add coconut. I read Mr. Darsey Nicholson's recipe that he had me hand copy from his own copy just before he died.

Pure Vanilla in the bottle with green label.
Mrs. Lenorah's finest homemade.

Mr. Darsey used only a pound and a half of mixed fruit, which contains citron and peel. He didn't add coconut, either. I forget where the idea for coconut came from, but it sure is tasty. I just dredge all the fruits and nuts in flour and make a pound cake batter to mix in. This year I didn't add nutmeg and cinnamon. Mr. Darsey used rum or brandy flavoring; Miz Jimmie used a half ounce each of vanilla and lemon flavorings. I believe homemade pure Vanilla is the very best flavoring.

There's a little bit of fruitcake left in every one of us ~ Jimmy Buffet


  1. Thanks so much for these great tips! Nigel adores fruitcake. Me, not so much, probably because all I've ever had is commercially made with lots of citron. I should try making one this year.

  2. You can't tell me you have been making fruit cake that long and not share your recipe! I wanted to try one a few years ago and it was dry that I haven't attempted one again.

    I even make my own vanilla......

    I would love to have everyone try a sliver this year even though they all say to don't like fruitcake.

    I love the tip about the apples.

  3. It would be Christmas without fruitcake and I'm sure yours is wonderful.

  4. Love your tips - might just be inspired to make something myself!


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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