Starting a Rumtopf

Rumtopf – Part One

What could be better than a massive jar full of rum? How about a massive jar full of fruit AND rum? Yup, that’s basically what a Rumtopf is, and last weekend I got mine started.

A Rumtopf (literally a rum pot) is a German and Danish tradition, used to preserve summer fruits through the winter. Some people say that it was invented to carry tropical fruits back from the Carribean, which would seem logical. I’ve wanted one for a while, and Nic bought me one last Christmas. Traditionally you would start with the first summer fruits and gradually add more throughout the year as they come into season. Nowadays you can get most fruits all year round, so you can start whenever you like.

I decided to kick mine off with some strawberries from Spain, and some yellow plums from South Africa. It’s pretty simple really, the hardest part is steeling yourself to put rum away for months without drinking it!

Rumtopf

Start by washing and drying the inside of the Rumtopf, make sure you get rid of any soap suds or anything that could cause mold to grow and spoil your fruit.

Next, wash the fruit and shake off any excess water. For the strawberries, I’ve read conflicting information about whether you should or shouldn’t wash them and whether they should be left whole or not. These were pretty huge, so I decided to cut them in half and remove the tops. Once prepared, I weighed them and then they went into the bottom of the pot.

Strawberries prepared for the Rumtopf

For the yellow plums, I slit all around the stone and then twisted them to separate into halves. I removed the stone and then cut the halves into smaller pieces. These were weighed and then they went on top of the strawberries.

Yellow plums ready for the Rumtopf

In total, I had 975g of fruit (560g of strawberries and 415g of plums) – now, some people recommend adding the same amount of sugar to the mix, while others say you should add half the weight. I decided I’d rather be cautious, as you can always sweeten more later but you can’t take it back! I added 470g of ordinary white sugar, which was near enough half for me.

Finally, the pot is filled with rum until the fruit is covered. I bought a litre of Lambs Dark Rum for this, thinking that it would only take a little and I could drink the rest. As it happened I ended up having to put the entire litre in, so make sure you have enough for yourself as well as the Rumtopf!

Fruit in the Rumtopf, covered with Dark Rum

Some sites recommend that you place a saucer in the pot to hold the fruit under the surface of the liquid, but mine has a neck that is too narrow to get one in so I washed and dried a plastic lid from a food tub and put that in – I will keep an eye on it and see how it gets on but as it stands, all the fruit is beneath the liquid.

All that remains is to cover the top with plastic (clingfilm, or a sandwich bag will do) and then place the pot in a cool, dark place – mine is in the cellar. As the year progresses, I will add more fruit and update this blog with how it is getting on – if you’re doing a Rumtopf (or a Cherry Bounce, which is a similar idea) then let me know how it goes!