(German)Rumtopf (Danish) Romkrukke, which literally means rum pot, is a German and Danish dessert, traditionally eaten around Christmas.
A mixture of various kinds of fruit, high strength rum, and sugar is filled into a large stoneware pot (the eponymous rum pot) and matured for several months until the fruit is very soft and completely saturated with rum. Suitable fruit includes berries, cherries, plums and apricots.
Overproof rum should be 100-110 proof (50-55% alcohol by volume), which is not always commonly available in all regions, but you can prepared it by blending more common commercially available 151 proof and 80 proof rums.
In a pinch use Dark Rum 50 percent (100 proof) is the tradition base alcohol for Rumtopf, however you may also find regions using whiskey, bourbon, or vodka as it's base alcohol.
Many say that a bottle of white wine must be added at least 1 month before using the fruit and drinking the alcohol cocktails.
The Fruit. Any fresh fruit that you like can be used, however soft fruits like bananas, citrus fruit, oranges and such should be avoided. Dark colored fruit and berries will discolor your Rumtopf and apples should be avoided, they turn an unpleasing brown color.
Use fresh that is in season. Adding layer upon layer as spring turns to summer and summer to fall.
Peel, pit, slice and dice fruit into large bite size pieces. Leave small size fruit like cherries, strawberries, raspberries and grapes skin on and whole. Caution, never, never stir or mix your layered rumtopf pot fruits. Watch your rumtopf pot and keep fruit covered by an inch or so of Rum, topping off your pot as needed.
The Sugar. Brown or white cane sugar, (Hint: avoid beet sugar). If you have a liking for really sweet desserts, then you should make your rumtopf using a 1 part fruit to 1 part rum. That’s 1 cup of sugar for every cup of fruit you add to your rumtopf pot. I like mine a bit less sweet and I use a 2 to 1 mix, 2 cups fruit to 1 cup of sugar and a clear rum, not a dark rum.
The Alcohol. Your rumtopf’s base flavor will be determined by your choice of alcohol. Rum, dark or light colored, bourbon, (southern comfort works well), many use vodka allowing the fruit to be the main flavor producing element. Always use 100 proof alcohol.
Getting started. Your first batch of fruit, mix together equal measures of fruit and sugar in a large bowl. So 2 cups of fruit get 2 cups of sugar. Let stand for 15 minutes, then place the fruit, sugar and any juices in a smooth layer on the bottom of the pot. Pour in enough rum to cover all the fruit by about an inch. Set in a cool, dark place.
Repeat this process for the remaining fruit as it comes into season, except the proportion of fruit to sugar changes to 2 to 1. So 2 cups of fruit would get 1 cup of sugar. Layer all new fruit nicely over the last layer without mixing. Add additional rum to cover by one inch. Keep adding fruit, sugar and rum through the summer and fall, stopping around mid to late October.
Let your Rumtopf rest until (in the USA) Thanksgiving, continue to serve and enjoy rumtopf through December and New Years day. You can begin enjoying your rumtopf alone, over ice cream, steamed puddings, cheesecake, pancakes or waffles.
Strain the ruby colored liquor and enjoy it as a cordial or cocktail drink. serve with a small piece of fruit in the glass for that extra special look.
May and June: raspberries, strawberries, sweet cherries, maybe even a bit of pineapple.
July: apricots, peaches, nectarines, currants, American wild plumbs.
August: sour cherries, yellow and purple plums, more peaches.
September: purple plums, pears early producing white and red seedless grapes.
October: Late harvest red and green seedless grapes, fall harvest strawberries.
Fruit to Avoid. Melons and bananas are too soft and watery. Dark berries like blackberries and blueberries can discolor the other fruit. Citrus fruit like oranges and grapefruit can make the Rumtopf sour and bitter. Apples turn an unpleasant brown color.
Hint: Try using spiced dark rum, or add a cinnamon stick, some whole cloves or a star anise sometime in September or October.
Hint. Maybe you would like to make a few 1/2 or pint jars of rumtopf as holiday or house warming gifts.
Rumtopf Cocktail. Mix 1 part rumtopf juice with 2 parts German or other sparkling wine or champagne in champagne glasses. Add a couple pieces of fruit and enjoy in moderation. Grinning, call a friend or taxi to get home!
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