It's about time for fruitcake again. A thin slice of rich, dark fruitcake packed with walnuts, real fruit, and reeking with brandy is one of my favorite Christmas indulgences.
The problem, as we know from the jokes told about the Christmas doorstop, is that good fruitcake is hard to find, and if you decide to make it yourself you're faced with even more serious problems. The candied fruits at the grocery store look like plastic bits mired in a tub of sickly sugar syrup. Those frightening red and green cherries just do not promise good fruitcake.
But those aren't the only option. If you're looking for good candied fruit and citron this holiday season, for fruitcake or other treats, here's a few sources that should yield something different and delicious. The real thing, it's such a treat.
If you know of other resources, or want to muse on all things fruitcake, please do share...
• King Arthur Candied Citron and Peel - Made in small batches, this is imported and unsulphured. $4.95 for each 6-ounce container.
• Dairy Fresh Candy - This candy store in Boston offers candied citron, cherries, ginger, peel and mix through their Yahoo store. Prices run about $5.99 per pound.
• June Taylor Jams - This is the really good stuff, priced accordingly. June Taylor is something of a Bay Area legend, making her jams in small batches with homemade pectin. She uses much less sugar than commercial jams. I had a jar of her rosemary-Meyer lemon marmalade that I hoarded very stingily. She is currently selling sugar-coated candied peel and Meyer lemon and Seville peel in syrup. Also of note is her vegetarian mincemeat. Prices are high - up to $26 for a jar of peel in syrup.
• Your local Whole Foods, Wild Oats, or organic market - Of course, you don't have to use candied fruit in fruitcake. You can also buy high-quality, organic dried fruit like figs, dates, cherries, cranberries, crystallized ginger, papaya, mango, or pineapple, and use those instead.