Fruitcake - long soak for the fruits?

Per this recipe for Panamanian Black Cake, the fruit needs to be soaked in liquor for a very, very long time.

Aside from moistening / reconstituting the fruit, what really happens with such a long soaking? We were talking about this the other day and trying to figure out what the benefit is - some sort of chemical reaction? Should I run out right now and try to find leftover candied fruit at the grocery store to start it soaking? The liquid seems like a fairly small volume, really: just a half cup of liquid for 3 cups of fruit (and the instructions don’t say anything about shaking the jar up).

I’d be nervous about spoilage too. I mean, alcohol is fine by itself, and dried / candied fruits are OK at room temperature, but adding moisture seems like a recipe (hah) for some sort of food poisoning.

I’ve made fruitcake before that calls for soaking the fruit for a day or so, which is less scary.

Alcohol is something of a preservative, so you shouldn’t have to worry about fruit spoilage. Unless you do the soak on top of a radiator or something. I mean, barrels of alcohol used to be a preferred method for storing human bodies for long periods (sea voyages and such). I do agree, though, that the volume of liquid seems small.

As for the why: some flavor compounds in foods are water-soluble; they dissolve in water, which helps to carry them to your tongue and nose. Other flavor compounds dissolve in alcohol, and the soak is intended to bring those components out and boost the flavor profile. Thirty days seems long, however; I can’t imagine that there will be significant improvement in a 30-day soak versus an overnight soak. The point of the long soak is probably to soften the fruit in the liquid.

Heh - the recipe I linked would consider 30 days to be FAR to little time - note that it says the baker soaks it for 2+ years.

I wonder if I’d want to have it sealed tightly (anaerobic / botulism, anyone?)