How Long Can You Keep Fruitcake? In This Case 106 Years

In antarctica, the Antarctica Heritage Trust made an interesting discovery… (Photo: Shutterstock)

If offered, I am not going to try the 106-year old fruitcake recently found on Cape Adare in Antarctica, even though it supposedly looks edible. When it comes to keeping food in my refrigerator or freezer before throwing it out, I tend to draw the line a little before a century.  

Members of the Antarctic Heritage Trust found the fruitcake in a hut inside a rotting container and wrapped in paper. The fruitcake did not have a “sell by” or “best if used by” date, but they believed that explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s team left the fruitcake there during their Terra Nova expedition in 1911 to the South Pole. As reported by Mike Moffitt for SFGATE, trust program manager Lizzie Meeks said, “There was a very, very slight rancid butter smell to it, but other than that, the cake looked and smelled edible.” Yeah, I’m hungry, but not that hungry.

Here’s a piece from Time on the fruitcake (not of the fruitcake):

How long can you typically keep a fruit cake, assuming that it is not 100 yearsThe U.S. Department for Agriculture (USDA) suggests up to 1 month in the pantry, up to 6 months refrigerated and up to a year frozen. The USDA does not indicate how long you can keep fruitcake in a hut in Antarctica. The numbers are similar for dried fruit, up to 1 month in the pantry, up to 6 months refrigerated. The key variables are how dry the fruit cake really is and whether you contaminated the food with your dirty, dirty hands or other filthy parts of your body. Many microorganisms need moisture to reproduce so a wet fruitcake will likely become dangerous to eat a lot sooner. Additionally, fruitcakes that were initially covered or soaked in alcohol can keep longer than those that weren’t. As a USDA Guide describes, “The luxurious fruitcake, studded with dried fruits and steeped in rum or brandy, is a present-day descendant. The liquor retards mold, and there are cases of well-tinned and brandied cakes lasting 20 years!”

Thus, fruitcakes may be able to survive quite a lot and be around along with Keith Richards long after everything else has disappeared post-apocalypse. Whether it will continue to taste OK is another question. Of course, if you aren’t a fan of fruitcakes, you may say that fruitcakes never taste OK.

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