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Where to get fruitcake ingredients???

This time last year, I discovered the demise of both Dairy Fresh Candies and Eastern Bakers Supply. The baker's/candy supply shop on Mass Ave (Verna's?) is long gone, too. I made do with some things from Christina's, but when I went in the staff was kind of surly...

...went back this morning and lo, they were surly again. I'm too old for surly. Where can I get candied peels, glaceed cherries, almond paste, poppy seeds and whatnot for holiday goodies? Candied fruit from teh grocery store is icky. I tried mail-order from King Arthur one year but wasn't impressed with the quality.

Where do you get your supplies?

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  1. There is a little shop right on the corner of the same street as Neptune Oyster in the north End. It's an old shop that sells lots of spices, nuts and they have big jars on the counter were they sell chunks of glazed citron. There is always a black cat wandering inside. He lives there.

    2 Replies
    1. re: macadamianut

      That's Polcari's Coffee -- I don't think they'd have everything the OP is looking for, but it might be worth a shot.

      1. re: macadamianut

        I've seen the giant citron chunks there, too.

      2. The recipe we make just uses normal dried fruits and nuts that we get from Trader Joe's. Which we soak in booze. It's pretty awesome.

        3 Replies
          1. re: xcptnl

            Yes, so many people many more people like fruitcake that has no candied fruit, just regular dried fruit (in addition to dried figs, raisins, blueberries, cherries (tart and sweet), cranberries, I also use mango, papaya, kiwi fruit - which create lovely colors and flavors). The quality of candied fruit here is generally poor, and I've given up on it. And I won't pay a premium for the high quality stuff from Europe - there's no need.

            Russo's has a wonderful selection of dried fruits (for example, they have great dried kiwi fruit), you can use them to supplement what you get cost effectively at TJs.

            1. re: Karl S

              Russo's sometimes has Buddha's Hands, which I believe are a variety of citron. For a funky adventure, you might be able to make your own candied citron from it.

        1. About a month ago, I made 10 small fruitcakes using dried fruit (raisins, currants, dried cherries, nuts, etc.) that also has applesauce in the batter. I decided to try these because you can't find good candied fruit around here. I've already doused the cakes twice with brandy and plan on doing it again before I ship them out to all the fruitcake haters I know. They smell really boozey…that's a good thing. I can't wait to cut into one of them.

          I miss Dairy Fresh.

          1. You don't want to hear this, but I get my candied citron and lot of other things (fruitcake-related and otherwise) at Christina's. I've definitely experienced indifferent service, or even non-existent service, and maybe at times a bit surly. But it's never stopped me from going back, because it's not the kind of place that requires that much service. I'm not excusing them---I really wish they did give better service. But since I know where mostly everything is, I just help myself and then suffer (if needed) in the slow line.

            Another negative about Christina's: I was about to purchase some almond oil, and noticed it was over a year since its expiration date. They *did* pull it from the shelf, but I doubt if they checked all their other oils. My guess is that, since these items are really expensive, turnover is really low. I've never had a problem with quality or freshness with their spices or dried fruits, however.

            That said, if you can't face Christina's, take the advice of the other posters and just use regular dried fruits, or make your own candied fruits. Plenty of cook books and internet sites give instructions how, and it doesn't seem that difficult. Possibly time intensive and laborious, but not technically difficult.

            Good luck. I love fruitcake.

            6 Replies
            1. re: bella_sarda

              Thanks for all of the suggestions, everyone. I will try Russo's and Polcari's then suck it up and go back to Christina's if needed. I could make the candied peels but I'm feeling lazy about that...it's really too bad that so many specialty-type stores have closed down.

              I do make fruitcakes with regular dried fruit, but I also like to give traditional Christmas cakes and plum puddings to our friends who grew up outside the US. They really appreciate a little taste of home.

              1. re: gimlis1mum

                If you don't mind ordering over the Internet, King Arthur Flour has exactly what you are looking for. They have a mixture of glace fruit as well as individual varieties.

                http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/i...

                1. re: PinchOfSalt

                  Unfortunately, if you read the original post, gimlis1mum specifically says that she was not impressed with the quality of KA's products. Which kind of surprises me, because I've been ordering from them for years and am always happy with their candied fruits, etc., but there you go.

                  1. re: Allstonian

                    Actually, it was quite a few years ago that I tried mail order from KA. It was the candied orange and lemon peels that I wasn't hapy with - they arrived all dried out. Maybe it was just an off batch. I have been happy with other items I've bought from KA.

                    1. re: gimlis1mum

                      In that case you might consider trying them again - I've never had that problem with their candied peels, and I order them regularly (or buy them at the shop in Norwich, VT, on my annual visit.) They also now sell a diced candied ginger that I love - really good in baked goods and easier to work with than most crystallized ginger.

              2. I am a bit of a broken drum regarding Arax in Watertown, but I was just in there this afternoon on my way to a meeting and noticed they had massively expanded their section of dried fruits, etc. This is a brand new section, possibly the best selection of dried fruit in Boston (with Dairy Fresh gone) really quite excellent, kiwis, papaya, etc. etc. Pretty sure they would have everything on your list including marzipan.

                I have had some truly wonderful fruitcakes, but cannot resist adding my favorite joke recipe to this thread.

                Classic Fruit Cake Recipe
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                Ingredients:
                - One cup of water
                - One cup of sugar
                - four large brown eggs
                - Two cups of mixed dried fruit
                - One teaspoon salt
                - One cup brown sugar
                - Juice of one lemon
                - One cup of coarsely chopped nuts
                - One bottle of whiskey

                Instructions:

                Sample the whiskey to check for quality.

                Take a large bowl. Check whiskey again. To be sure it's the highest
                quality, pour one level cup and drink. Repeat.

                Turn on the electric mixer, beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar and beat again.

                Make sure the whiskey is still okay. Cry another tup. Turn off the mixer.
                Beat two leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Mix
                on the tuner. If the fired druit gets stuck in the beaterers, pry it loose
                with a drewscriver.

                Sample the whiskey to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something. Who cares? Check the whiskey, darn good whiskey. Now sift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Spoon. Of sugar or something. Whatever you can find.

                Grease the oven. Turn the cake tin to 350 degrees. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Throw the bowl out of the window. Whew, check that whiskey again and go to bed.

                Who the hell likes fruitcake anyway?
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                5 Replies
                1. re: StriperGuy

                  Thanks for that. Almost 20 years ago, the mother of a former friend of mine recited a similar recipe for Amertetto Cake at his birthday party; her delivery was impeccable.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    I'm one of those nuts who LOVES fruitcake!!! Now I'll have to either bake my own or look for a good one to buy..............

                    1. re: mtm7654

                      Make your own! So easy, and the results are SO much better than most that you can buy. Plus it gives you complete control over ingredients - what types of fruit, types of nuts, proportions, which liquor to use, and so on. All it takes is time. (Back when I made fruitcakes regularly, I liked to bake them the weekend following Thanksgiving, which leaves about 4 weeks to let the cakes age before Christmas. Longer is even better, but 4 weeks is fine.)

                      1. re: Allstonian

                        When YOU say it, it sounds so easy. I'm basically a lazy slob but have to admit I was checking out some of the recipes on this site. And I do love liquor and nuts...............

                    2. re: StriperGuy

                      So does Arax have candied peel/fruits or just dried?

                    3. Hi! I wanted to make sure this was still the case before I posted; hence, the lag....

                      The Cheese Shop in Concord Center has wonderful candied orange and lemon peels from France, plus a candied bitter orange peel from Morocco. They don't have a huge supply, but they do try to keep it in stock throughout the year.

                      I have been hoarding and occasionally nibbling on the orange peel over the last year! I sampled the bitter orange peel today, and it had a nice bite--and a long-lingering flavor.

                      The Cheese Shop
                      29 Walden St.
                      Concord
                      978-369-5778

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: ErstwhileEditor

                        Thanks for the tip! I didn't know about that store, must go check it out. And maybe pick up some cheese while I'm at it :-)

                        1. re: gimlis1mum

                          mum, don't know how you resolved this but Dave's Pasta makes my fav Panforte using assorted dried fruits etc. and they are so nice there, i bet they would sell you some that they bake with.
                          btw, we eat clementines by the box in fall/winter and i keep the peels(i cut them off w/ a knife, in one piece; they sort of resemble an open lotus flower) refrigerated, and then candy a full batch of them. I have big sheet pan sized racks for drying them. then i keep them frozen.(i don't dredge them in sugar.) must try that candied citron at Polcari's. As much as I liked the guys at Dairy Fresh, their candied citrus was pretty bad....

                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                            I ended up mail ordering from King Arthur and it was fine - I must have gotten a bad batch years ago.

                            Or maybe I just have an odd taste in candied citrus? I used to buy the stuff in slices, rather than the diced form, from Dairy Fresh and it worked for me.

                            The candied clementine peel sounds really pretty. I have a wonderful recipe for a chocolate panforte that I make every year, i bet it would be great with candied clementine peel.

                            1. re: gimlis1mum

                              An orange by any other name! you make panFORte, mum? i knew i really liked you :-}
                              p.s. i have an enormous amt of my own candied grapefruit peel and orange peel; to save it from compost(yes my freezerS are that full, plus i will never use it all), contact me thru my member info.happy to have it used.

                          1. re: qianning

                            Fastachi's in Watertown, across from Arax, has wonderful dried and candied fruit, as good as their excellent other products. a delightful store on all counts.