Have you ever had Rumtopf? A huge bowl of seriously boozy sliced fruits sitting in the middle of the table. A ladleful poured over icecream or served on its own with whipped cream? You haven’t? Well, boy are you in for a treat.
Rumtopf is a way of preserving fruit by steeping it in alcohol. What the Germans discovered a few hundred years ago was that by layering the fruits, preseriving them with a little sugar and alcohol as they came into season was a great way to save a little of each season’s harvest for the family to enjoy at christmas.
If you have a lot of fruit in your area you might find the following coming into season in approximately this order through the year. As each type of fruit gets ripe add it as a new layer to your rumtopf. As the name implies, Rum is the preferred alcoholic base, but you can use any spirit you fancy. I have tasted rum, whiskey, brandy and vodka based rumtopfs (is the plural rumtopfen) and they all work very well.
Slice fairly thinly, sprinkle with sugar and layer in the bootom of the pot. Cover with alcohol and use a saucer as a weight to keep the apple slices submerged.
Smaller strawberries can be chopped in half, big strawberries can be sliced.
We leave our gooseberries whole. A little extra sugar on this layer helps.
Remove the stone and slice. If the peaches are very sweet, sprinkle a little less sugar
Plum stones should be removed. Our plums generally disintergrate at this point so just check them in the pot.
Remove stones and add the halves to the rumtopf
these can be left whole
blueberries can also be left whole in a rumtopf but add extra sugar.
Apples are cheap and abundant so you might be tempted to put a lot of them into your rumtopf. A great way to keep the layered effect is to intersperse layers of apples with layers of blackberries and also to leave the skin on some apple layers and remove the skin completely on other layers.
Since blackberries are free, go gather the good ones and get them into your rumtopf.
We always leave pears as our top layer. I am not sure if this is a german tradition or just something that my Grandma started, but in our house a rumtopf has to be topped with slices of succulent pear. You might also throw in a few cloves and a half stick of cinnamon… not strictly traditional but it adds a wonderfully fragrant bonus.
Now that the year is up and the pot is full you need to close it up and let it mature for at least three months. A better option is to leave it for a whole year and only crack it open next christmas. The wait will be worth it.
How to eat/ drink rumtopf
What you get when you do eventually spoon out the contents into bowls is the most astounding turbo charged fruit salad you have ever tasted. The best accompaniment is top quality vanilla ice cream.