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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Rehydrating Dried-Out Fruitcake Fruit


I've been trying to do just a little bit of holiday work every day. When I'm upstairs, I grab a handful of Christmas decorations from the holiday trunk and bring them downstairs to put out. Today, I baked a couple of loaves of almond and fruit bread for Christmas morning, which I'll store in the freezer until the 25th.

dried out fruitcake fruit

I didn't buy fruitcake fruit this year or last, but have continued to use up some that I bought 3 Christmas's ago. If refrigerated, fruitcake fruit doesn't spoil. And since it's so heavily candied, it also doesn't develop mold. The only evidence of its aging is that it gets dried out. That syrupy coating dries to crystals, and the fruit itself becomes tough and a bit leathery.

after 30 minutes

To fix my fruitcake fruit, I rehydrated the portion that I needed for my recipe in a bowl, with a tablespoon of boiling water added, and covered for an hour. I stirred the fruit from time to time, to make sure all of it came in contact with the water. 

left: dried out, right: rehydrated 1 hour

After about an hour, the fruit was mostly rehydrated, at least enough for baking purposes. The fruit soaked up the liquid, leaving just a trace of moisture at the bottom of the bowl.

This works with rock-hard raisins, dried cranberries, or other dried fruit that is no longer palatable due to their texture -- tooth-breakers I call 'em. For about 1/2 to 1 cup of dried fruit, steam with about 1 to 2 tablespoons of boiling water, covered for about an hour, stirring occasionally. This should bring the fruit back to a "normal" dried fruit texture, useful for baking.

13 comments:

Alice said...

Oh, wow, that sounds good. My dad makes sweet bread out of fruitcake fruit every Christmas but he adds a roll of almond paste in the middle. I really like that bread a lot. Mom buys several containers of this candy fruit and gives me one every year. I keep it in the freezer. I have been known to take a scoop out just to eat a small treat. But not anymore since I'm limiting my sugars. This year I won't be eating any of the bread either which makes me so sad.

Alice

ruthie said...

I just love all these little tidbits of information. And I appreciate the kindness and love from this blog. It not only helps my budget but feeds my soul with sweet and kind feelings because everyone seems to care about each other. Thank you for the time and energy you put into hosting this community of like minded friends. Have a great day!

Kris said...

Ruthie, welcome back and I hope you're doing well.

Alice, your dad's bread sounds delicious. I have come to associate almond paste and almond-flavored pastries with a Dutch heritage (I grew up on the other side of the state and the ethnic/cultural influences were different). Am I accurate in that assumption?

Lili, I don't keep fruitcake fruit around but sometimes my raisins get dried out--thanks for the tip! And you're right, we all have to keep plugging away bit by bit at Christmas activities. I have yet to start baking. Soon .....

Alice said...

Kris,
Yes! That is absolutely a Dutch heritage food. None of my kids like almond paste but I love it since we had that every Christmas growing up.
Alice

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy all of your frugal and creative ideas. This is off topic, but I know you homeschooled your daughters and was wondering if you had any tips on how to save in this area. I have 6 children, so the materials do add up.

Tiffany

Live and Learn said...

I'm not a fruit cake person, but I have rehydrated a my fair share of raisins. My mother boiled them a bit in water and then poured out the excess water instead of adding boiling water. It seems either way will work.

Lili said...

Hi Alice,
Your dad's candied fruit and almond bread sounds like just my thing. Some years, I make an almond-filled bread for Christmas day. That almond paste is pricey, though, so I don't make that every year. The almond-filled breads and cakes must also be a Scandinavian thing. Half of my ancestry is Scandinavian and I have some recipes that have been passed down that use almond paste. Almond paste is so yummy. I'll have to watch for in in after-Christmas sales. It usually has a shelf life of a couple of years.

Lili said...

Hi Ruthie,
I hope you're feeling better ad the pain is much diminished. That must have been so scary in the moment. Not a great way to begin a holiday weekend, I'm sure.
Thank you for your kind words, Ruthie. I agree, this is a wonderful little community of women. I have felt uplifted by all of you at one time or another. Thanks for being here.
Have a great day, Ruthie!

Lili said...

Hi Kris,
My mom baked fruitcake every year. So I got used to having something with the candied fruit in it every year, for both Christmas and Easter. I watch for it to go on clearance in early January.
I did my "little bit" for Christmas already today. I made a run to the post office and put 1 bow on an outdoor lantern. Not a lot, but every little bit gets the job done.
Have a lovely day, Kris!

Lili said...

Hi Tiffany,
My, you have your hands full every day! But there's also a lot of joy with a big household, as I'm sure you already know.

Yes, I homeschooled all 3 kids through the 8th grade. You're right, the materials get very expensive. I would have to say that the 2 biggest money-savers for us, with regards to books/curriculum were 1) my sister-in-law was also homeschooling her 2 boys at about the same time. Her oldest was a year behind my son and her youngest was between my son and 2 daughters. We used the same curriculum for almost all of our subjects and swapped books every summer, even when we didn't live near each other. It was cheaper to ship books back and forth than buy our own sets of curriculum. Also, 2) for the reading portion of the curriculum, we didn't buy the reading materials from the publisher, but crafted our own curriculums with books from the library.

We used the library heavily. I used it as part of "pre-school" for all 3 kids (story time and craft afternoons), educational videos to add to our science studies, and all kinds of non-fiction. We purchased the bare-bones of the curriculum, watching for closeouts/craigslist/homeschool book exchanges of consumable books. Although my daughters (being in the same grade all through school) would often share a text book, I tried to make sure they always had their own workbooks.

While the cost of all curriculum materials may seem high, I also often thought we saved money in other areas, such as making simple lunches from garden produce or basic ingredients -- lunches that my kids may have felt didn't fit in with other school kids if I'd packed them to eat at school. Also, while my kids always had one or two nice outfits to wear out places, everyday clothing was basic, second-hand, often needed patching or repairs and again, like the lunch food, my kids may have felt pressure to have more on-trend and new clothing, if attending a day school. Those 2 items alone, school lunches and clothing, easily saved us enough each year to cover what we spent on homeschooling materials.

I've asked my kids if they ever felt badly that their clothing may have not been as trendy or their lunches didn't have lots of commercially-prepared foods in them. They've told me that with clothing, the only thing that they ever wanted as a kid was clothes that were in their favorite colors, and with lunches, they thought my cooking and baking was great, and only occasionally wished for commercial snack/lunch foods.

I think the best we can do is cut expenses where we can so that we can afford the things that matter. I hope this helps!

Lili said...

Hi Live and Learn,
That's good to know about boiling raisins to rehydrate them. That probably takes less time than allowing them to sit for an hour. Thanks for the tip.

Lynn said...

This is so timely for me. Some years I make fruit cake cookies and like others, buy the candied fruit when I find it on clearance after Christmas. I have some of the red cherries I've had for a while, which are now encased in crystals, like you said Lili. I wasn't sure whether to throw them away or not. I'll try this and just maybe it will spur me to get busy getting ready for Christmas! I'm lagging far behind this year. :(

Ruthie, glad you are better. I also want to say thank you to Lili for hosting this sweet, positive, informative gathering!

Lili said...

Hi Lynn,
I'm having to push myself on Christmas stuff, too. I hope that your fruitcake fruit rehydrates as well as mine did. I love those red cherries. I'll have to watch for those on clearance along with the chopped fruit this year.
Enjoy your holiday baking, Lynn!

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