Rumtopf is a boozy, show-stopping Christmas desert that is well worth reviving in British culture. One pot will last the whole festive period and will feed plenty, although it is certainly not suitable for children! It literally means ‘rum pot’ and should be ceremoniously brought out at the end of every meal to be eaten with Christmas pudding or just with some cream or ice cream.
Traditionally, this was a German way of preserving fruit in the summer in time for colder winter months. It used to be very popular in the UK in the 50s and 60s, but for some reason, it became rather unfashionable. Since foraging in hedgerows has made a comeback with the masses, there is no reason why making Rumtopf shouldn’t be just as popular.
The idea of this is to collect fruits and berries throughout the summer months when they are in season and preserve them in layers in a pot using rum and sugar. It’s a pretty simple process but you need to make sure you don’t use less sugar or rum than required. If you do, there is a chance the fruit will go mouldy and all the fruit you have collected and rum you have bought will be wasted.
First of all, you will need to buy a Rumtopf jar. These can be bought very cheaply from ebay for as little as £5. If you don’t want to buy a new jar, a high sided stoneware pot with a secure lid will do. I recommend buying a proper Rumtopf jar because part of the majesty of this dish is carrying an ornate clay jar onto the table at the end of the meal. In my view, the more dated the jar looks, the better!
The amount of sugar may seem like a lot, but it is necessary to properly preserve the fruit. The fruit needs to have time (at least two months) to become soft and fully saturated with rum.
Pick fruits and berries as they come into season and add to the jar.
For every pound of fruit, use 8oz of sugar and cover each layer of fruit with plenty of rum.
Suitable fruit includes:
You will need to make sure you have removed any stones before you add the fruit to the pot.
Store the pot with its lid on in a cool, dry, dark place.
So, this summer, if you have any leftover fruit or pick too much on a foraging expedition, why not try giving Rumtopf a go. If anything, it will lead to a rum-fuelled Christmas!