Christmas fruit cakes are a shelf-stable treat not like any other. Whether you are a fruit cake hater or a fruit cake connoisseur, it is interesting to learn the reasons this holiday dessert may outlast your grandchildren.
The reason for longevity may all come down to the ingredients found in Christmas fruit cakes. Fruit cake is well known to be quite a dense dessert. Not like other cakes, it is packed full of previously preserved ingredients, such as candied or dried fruits and nuts.
Dry ingredients such as these do not provide the moisture necessary for microorganisms to reproduce. This prevents bacteria from forming on the fruit cake.
Another major factor in the preservation of Christmas fruit cakes is the alcohol that they contain. With plenty of alcohol used in the making of the cake, it will stay good on the shelf year after year.
As soon as the fruit cake is cool, the baker wraps it in cheesecloth that has been soaked in liquor, such as rum or brandy. Then the fruit cake is stored in an airtight container. Therefore, yeast and mold will not be able to grow on the surface of the cake. In addition, the cake will remain moist and delicious.
Better with Age
Many people agree that not only is it possible for a Christmas fruit cake to remain unspoiled for long periods of time, but it is even better that way. Fans of the holiday dessert believe in letting the cake sit for several months, or even years.
The skins of the fruit contained in the cake contain biomolecules, which are known as tannins. Tannins are the same compounds popular for enhancing the flavor of aged red wine. The longer the tannins are allowed to sit in the fruit cake, the deeper and more complex the flavor will become.
The ideal time to let Christmas fruit cakes sit varies depending on who you ask. However, most recommend eating the cake within two years.
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