Rumtopf just in time for Christmas

Tonight I hope to start a fruity and boozy treat called Rumtopf that is very popular at Christmas in Germany and Denmark.  It was traditionally a way of making sure there was fruit to eat during winter, using nature’s most reliable preservatives – sugar and alcohol!

The recipe I have is supposed to start as soon as the strawberries are ripe, and then more fruits are added as they come into season.  You need a glazed ceramic jar, or a glass jar with a cover to block out light so that the colours do not fade,  with a tight-fitting lid.  Enamel, or any metal container, will spoil the flavours of the contents with a taint.

The first pound (or half-kilo) of fruit is mixed with a pound of sugar, then rum is added until the fruit is submerged.  Every subsequent pound of fruit gets half a pound of sugar, and the rum gets topped up until the jar cannot take any more.

This grows over several months, usually, so that by Christmas everything should be a wonderful, sweet and colourful mix of all sorts of fruits.  Starting with strawberries, there are loads of other fruits that should be compatible with this storage method, including de-stoned and quartered plums (or any large stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines, apricots), de-stoned cherries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, even pineapple!

I need to find out whether fruits that would usually be cooked will work, like blackcurrants or gooseberries.  I also need to find out whether it is possible to use a spiced rum, or add some spices, and if so when it is best to add them.  I suspect that they might be best at the end of the process.

I saw plenty of  jars on eBay, but most were in Germany, so I was concerned about the shipping.  If we go back there on holiday again in the campervan, I will definitely try to buy a Rumtopf jar on the way back.  Instead, I found a smart clear glass jar in a fantastic store in York – it has fluted sides and a silicone lid seal, which will hold up to 5 litres of liquid.  I don’t want to make so much Rumtopf that we get too sick of it to finish it!

It does look as though rather a lot of my work recently in the kitchen – beyond the daily meals – has involved alcohol…  I will have to redress the balance soon.

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One response to “Rumtopf just in time for Christmas”

  1. cwyl says :

    Well, I divided the rumtopf up between the family and kept a little bit back. It is lovely on pancakes – though I cannot eat much, I find the whole thing very filling! The liquor is great on its own, and will probably be perfect for making interesting cocktails.

    I did learn that the fruit really is best if it is ripe, as a couple of bits were a bit too sharp. Some people might like that, but I thought they didn’t blend as nicely with the other bits and pieces.

    In the end, the rumtopf included apricots, plums, nectarines, a starfruit (looks good floating around in the jar!), blueberries, and strawberries (which lose their colour pretty much immediately, sadly).

    Most of the liquor will be kept to start a fresh batch to be done the proper way – adding things all year round. Yum… 😉

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