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Nov 4, 2012 09:50 AM

Black Cake fruits have been marinating since last year - any worry?

Every year since it was printed in Gourmet - 1988? - I've made Laurie Colwin's recipe for black cake at Christmas time. Everyone loves it and the list of people who want to be on "the list" grows each year, so last year I made a double batch of the fruit, rum, wine base thinking I would make twice as many cakes. Why I thought this was a good idea when we were moving into a new house in December is beyond me, temporary insanity brought on by packing I think. So eventually I baked one recipe and kept the second container of fruits in a big glass jar in the fridge for the last year. I'm assuming all the sugar in there would keep it from going bad, but I am a big worrier about food safety when I'm giving food as gifts.

So will this be great because it's marinated so long, or a bottle of botulism? Any thoughts? Thanks!

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  1. It's been a while and I figure everyone has been distracted by the election, so I'm re-posting.
    Really not sure what to do!

    3 Replies
    1. re: onthelam

      What's it all smell/look like?
      I'd think the alcohol, sugar and fridge would be enough to keep it safe to eat, but how far has the fruit broken down? Is it still whole, or has it disintegrated in to a syrup? How long can the cake keep after it's made? (I've never made it, but I am thinking of my Jamaican friends who start their cakes weeks in advance). If it would keep long enough to make it now, I'd be inclined to give it a try. (Freezable?)
      That way, if it worked, great - if not, you've still got time to start over? Interested to see how this works out, because the recipe looks amazing!

      1. re: tacosandbeer

        if this is marinating in alcohol as its supposed to be I would have no hesitation whatsoever. Ive had black cake fruits (in the past) marinating on my shelf (not refrigerator) for well over a year with no problem. I also would not worry about the fruits disintegrating - the west indian cakes involve grinding up the marinated fruit and are perfectly fine. Also ,I find these fruits dont necessarily soften to the degree you hope. Go ahead, it will be wonderful!!!

        1. re: jen kalb

          Yes, it's a bottle of rum and a bottle of Manischevitz and the fruits are nearly ground so I wasn't so much worried about texture as mold or spoilage. As reported below, it tasted and looked fine - I don't know why I wasn't trusting my sense of it initially, but the general opinion here gives me peace of mind!

    2. l would check to see if the fruits still had texture as well as no visible mold. If tastes good and looks fine would use it in a heartbeat.
      l have a bunch of very brandied fruitcakes going back 18 years that are getting better each year. Once l did macerate the fruits for many, many months and that one was one of the best.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

        Wait, you're sitting on a bunch of very brandied fruitcakes? Are you waiting for something in particular or just conducting a long-running experiment? That sounds so intriguing!

        Anyway, to the OP, I agree that if the fruit still has some texture and tastes good, it is fine to use. Perhaps eat a few and see if you're still alive several days hence?

      2. Heh, I would just taste it ! Besides, you should see and smell immediately when you open the container, if it is ok? If the alcohol level was high enough it should be fine, I would think.
        I make Rumtopf all the time, have one sitting on the counter right now, which is simply different fruits layered with some sugar added and covered with enough Rum to prevent spoilage at room temperature.

        2 Replies
        1. re: RUK

          That is going to be a really, really good black cake! My mother used to start soaking her Christmas cake fruit in black rum in July, and it was never put in the fridge, so I think you will be fine.

          1. re: RUK

            Thanks! I just told my husband I posted this and he said the exact same thing - well, actually " Hell, let's go taste it now!" . Results: it smells exactly like it usually does - heady with rum and wine and very sweet and syrupy! Yeah! Or maybe WHEW!
            I usually do leave it unrefrigerated when I age it for a few weeks, but I was concerned about the length of time.

          2. Yes, it's bad! Don't touch it. Send it to me and I'll help you throw it away. :p

            I wish I had that stash. I just got it in my head to make black cake in addition to my popular rum cake and I just did the soak yesterday. I'm thinking a month is better than nothing.

            This has been preserving in alcohol for a year - I think you're okay unless you see mold in it. Think of all the canned foods sold every day. If they have not killed us, nothing preserved in nature's best preserver will.

            I wish I had your problem!

            4 Replies
            1. re: nikkib99

              Here's my fruit mix I made yesterday. I used cream sherry instead of cherry brandy, but it has it's share of rum... 3 cups. First time ever trying this and I'm so tempted to buy some brandy and top it off. But I already have 6 cups of booze in there!

              I have a month to find mixed essence and browning... hope it's successful.

              1. re: nikkib99

                browning is just caramelized sugar. You can make it or buy it in the caribbean aisle of your supermarket, if you have one or look for a sub say Kitchen Bouquet. (check the ingredients are only sugars and water. If you are not near a caribbean grocery store, maybe you can make your own mixed essence using vanilla and almond extracts. There are recipes online.of some complexity - but if you are putting this into say the Saveur recipe online, I think there is enough spice in there without messing around spicing your mixed essence.

                good luck

                1. re: jen kalb

                  Thanks. I went on the hunt to the caribbean markets today and found browning. In fact, I came home with 2. The first store had Grace brand, so I got it. Then I went to the second store ISO mixed essence and saw the blue mountain brand. Only $2, so no biggie.

                  Both stores did not have mixed essence and I even spoke to the manager at one store who called his supplier and the guy did not have anything. On his advice, I went to the caribbean bakery - most popular in chicago - and the guy said he did not mixed essence in his cakes. To be fair, he said his mother is the one who does the baking, but he said they have different bottles of stuff.

                  I have a month, though and I think if I don't find it, I might just go with vanilla and almond extracts - I have both. I saw the ingredient list for a bottle online and it said it was vanilla, almond and citrus extract. I don't have citrus extract, but I have the oils - which are from the peel. Not the same.

                  I also have fiori di sicilia from KAF which is a combination of citrus and vanilla. Maybe I can use it and add a little almond extract. LOL

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Thanks again for the info. I think I'm going to pass on it and use a combo of my extracts. I should have listened to myself the first time.... avoid anything that says 'essence' and only use extracts.