Rum has been imported to Europe since the 18th century. The German city of Flensburg, on the border to Denmark, was the seat of the West Indies fleet, which traded with the Virgin Islands and from there, rum was spread throughout the continent.
Rum is used in Rumtopf to preserve fruit for the winter. Some people believe it was discovered by the rum importers who also wanted to import tropical fruit. The fruit did not transport well but when some of it accidentally fell into a barrel of rum, a tradition was born.
- For the Main Fruit:
- For Optional Fruit:
- Mirabelle plums
- For the Other Ingredients:
- Several bottles of 54% rum (see note at bottom of page)
- 8 oz. of sugar per pound of fruit
Rumtopf is a tradition in many families which is renewed yearly. The classic recipe is that the Rumtopf is begun in the summer and opened close to Christmas after it has had plenty of time to ripen. Traditionally, the father is the one to open the crock and eat the first helping.
Rumtopf is a process. Fruit is added as it becomes ripe from June until October, along with sugar and overproof rum (108 proof, 54% or higher) in order to preserve the fruit properly.
It is then allowed to sit in a dark, cool spot such as a cellar, for six to nine weeks.
Starting Your Rumtopf
- To create Rumtopf you will need a container large enough to fit several pounds of fruit and a few liters of rum. A three-gallon crock is typical but gallon canning jars may be used as needed. as long as the vessel can be closed tightly, you may use it.
- Strawberries in June and cherries in late June are the first fruits in the crock. for every pound of fruit, you will use half a pound of sugar and a bottle (750 ml, about a fifth of a gallon) of 108 proof, dark rum. Wash the fruit and remove the hull, stem and/or stone. Sprinkle the fruit with the sugar and let it sit for at least an hour. Then pour rum over the fruit to cover. Place plastic wrap on top of the liquid, close the crock and put it in a cool, dark place until the next batch of fruit is ready to add.
- Apricots and cherries are classically added in July and peaches, plums, grapes and nectarines in August. September brings pears and raspberries and in October, a half a pineapple is added (out of season and often from the can, but now a tradition). Cut the fruit into bite-sized pieces, remove the skin from the peaches, add the fruit and the sugar to the crock, let it sit for an hour, then add rum to cover.
- If you wish, add cinnamon sticks or star anise to the crock in October, too. After the last fruit is added, place some cling wrap on the liquid, close the crock and leave in a dark, cool place for at least four weeks.
Eating Your Rumtopf
Rumtopf is good on top of puddings, ice cream, pound cakes and you may even like it placed in the bottom of a champagne glass and filled to the top with champagne.
However, you wish to use Rumtopf, remember that the fruit is full of alcohol, even though it does not taste very strong, and should be consumed in moderation.
Using Overproof Rum
Caution! Highly flammable. Overproof rum can be highly flammable. Bacardi 151° even carries a warning on their label and says not to use it in flaming drinks. Any overproof alcohol is highly flammable and should be used at your own risk.
Note: Since you do not need a 150 proof rum, you can dilute Bacardi 151 or Gosling 151 with regular, 80 proof rum (which is less expensive) in an approximate ratio of 2 bottles 151 proof to 3 bottles 80 proof.