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Ed Ashby
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When I lived in Alaska, and frequently made many long backpack hunts, ranging from 10 to 30 days, I made extensive use of the Apollo 17 fruit cake. For Alaska hunting, it always kept fine without any refrigeration (I never tried it in the desert climates). Eaten with a little water, tea or coffee it gave a tremendous energy boost; a big help when hunting the mountains, and it can serve as a complete food supply; nutritionally complete and 2,500 calories per six ounce serving. On top of that, it is easy to make and it taste great. Here’s the details and the recipe.

According to AP news reports, “this fruitcake so nutritionally complete that a 6-ounce serving provides the daily nutrient and 2,500-a-day calorie requirements for each astronaut.”

According to the Apollo 17 Press Kit, the nutritionally complete fruitcake provides all the nutrients needed by man in their correct proportions. The fruitcake contains many ingredients such as: soy flour, wheat flour, sugar, eggs, salt, cherries, pineapple, nuts, raisins, and shortening. Vitamins have been added. The product is heat sterilized in an impermeable flexible pouch and is shelf-stable until opened. This fruitcake can provide a nutritious snack or meal. This food is planned for use in the future in the Space Shuttle program as a contingency food system.

Apollo 17 Fruitcake Recipe

“SPACE CENTER, Houston (AP) — December 18, 1972 — The Apollo 17 astronauts kept munching on their own special fruitcake during man’s last planned flight to and from the moon. You might want to put it on your Christmas surprise menu.

At the request of The Associated Press, U.S. Army Laboratories at Natick, Mass., scaled down the recipe for “Astronaut Fruitcake” and tested it for baking in home kitchens.

The following recipe will yield about two pounds. It may be baked in ten 3-ounce sizes or in two 1-pound coffee cans.


2/3 cup sifted cake flour

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons soy flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup sugar

5 tablespoons shortening

1 extra large egg

1 1/2 tablespoons water

1 cup light raisins

1 1/2 tablespoons water

1/2 cup halves candied cherries

1/3 cup candied pineapple in 1/2-inch dices

1 cup pecan pieces


Mix and sift together flours, salt, baking powder and spices. Set aside. Cream sugar and shortening together thoroughly. Add egg to creamed mixture and mix thoroughly. Blend in dry ingredients and water. Fold fruit and nuts into batter, mix until evenly distributed.

Ten 3-ounce cakes: To form each 3-ounce cake, place 1/2 cup batter on 12-inch square of heavy duty foil, or a double thickness of regular foil. Flatten batter to depth of 3/4 inch. Fold sides around cake batter, then fold up edges of foil so batter is tightly wrapped and will not lose moisture during baking. Bake 1 hour at 300 degrees F. Allow to cool thoroughly – preferably overnight – before unwrapping and serving. (I left mine sealed in the heavy duty foil and froze them until ready to go on the hunt.)

Two 1-pound cakes: Place half the batter in each of two 1-pound coffee cans. Cover top of can with foil and crimp edges to form seal. Bake upright in a pan of water in 300 degree F oven for 3 1/2 hours. Be sure the foil does not touch the water in the pan, as it may draw up water into the cake during the baking.”

Source: Associated Press news release, published in various papers: San Mateo Times – Saturday, December 16, 1972 – San Mateo, California, page 7.