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Old 04-06-2013, 03:51 PM   #1
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Food safety question

So Grandma ordered three small fruitcakes which were shipped to her at the end of December and were kept in a refrigerator. Sometime in early to mid January she took the fruitcakes out and soaked them in alcohol (Brandy, I think). She wrapped them up in either a cheese cloth or old t-shirt with an outer layer of aluminum foil. She put them on top the freezer in the garage where they are currently still sitting.

I'm wondering whether these would still be safe to eat? I'm sure she probably thinks they are and will insist that I try one. But considering they've been sitting on a freezer which probably gets warm and the outside temperature fluctuates, I can't imagine they'd be safe. The temperature in the garage has ranged from 25 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. One day might be 40, the night might be 25, then the next day might be 70, then the night be 35. The temperatures around here have been crazy this year.

Do you think these fruitcakes would still be safe to eat? It's really the fluctuating temperatures that have me concerned, plus that they're sitting on top a freezer. It would seem like this would be the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. I would throw them away myself, but I know Grandma is gonna want me to taste one of them.


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Old 04-06-2013, 05:01 PM   #2
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I used to order fruitcake from a monastery for my mom (now deceased, but not from fruitcake), and they were always shipped without any refrigeration. The monastery ships year 'round, during all kinds of temps. I see fruitcakes in stores that are left out in all kinds of temps. I think you should be fine. If it smells funny, don't eat it. My issue might be that she took the FC from the original wrapper and rolled it in a t-shirt...

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Old 04-06-2013, 05:29 PM   #3
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Fruit cakes never were refrigerated throughout history. The high sugar content and the booze serve to keep them safe. I'd eat it.
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Old 04-06-2013, 05:35 PM   #4
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In fact, classic fruitcake is aged in brandy. Of course, that normally means soaking the cheesecloth (or Uncle Fred's tee-shirt) in brandy and wrapping the cake, but her method should work. But it's plenty well aged after a month, so it's certainly time to go ahead and freeze it or eat it. It's not getting any better now.
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Old 04-06-2013, 05:52 PM   #5
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It will probably show obvious mold if it's bad.
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Old 04-06-2013, 05:54 PM   #6
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I think the consensus is: go ahead and eat it. I would.
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Old 04-06-2013, 05:57 PM   #7
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If it's a good fruit cake recipe, I would enjoy them. If it's recipe that no one has ever liked, this is a good excuse to get rid of them.
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Old 04-06-2013, 06:15 PM   #8
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I agree with the others.

If you don't see mold it is probably fine.

I would serve small slices of it with some good sharp cheddar cheese.

If it is dry then I would serve it with a warm nutmeg sauce.

Nutmeg sauce:

1/4 to a 1/2cup of sugar
1 T of cornstarch.
1/4 to 1/2 t of ground nutmeg
1 cup boiling water
1/2 to 1t vanilla extract
1 T butter

Mix sugar, cornstarch and nutmeg together in a saucepan, stir in boiling water. Stir over medium heat until the mixture thickens and clears. Remove from heat, add vanilla extract and butter, continue stirring until the butter melts and serve.
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Old 04-06-2013, 09:50 PM   #9
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Another vote for it should be safe. My MIL made a really good (honest!) fruitcake every holiday season. We lived in OH and she lived in FL. She'd mail it out the day after Thanksgiving at the latest, already cheesecloth wrapped and doused with rum, then wrapped in foil. When she was being silly she'd even put a "tax stamp" over the fold! It came with directions to unwrap the foil, add more rum, re-wrap and return to the counter once a week. By Christmas the foil was getting tiny pinholes in it from the alcohol! It was good and safe every single year.

Nothin' like chasing it down with a small glass of Drunken Cherries.
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Old 04-07-2013, 01:33 AM   #10
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Fruitcakes don't have a shelf life, they have a half life.

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