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.