Boozy Fruit. I just like that idea of delicious fruit drunk on rum and it’s basically what this recipe is all about. Okay, maybe it’s more about preserving the summer’s sweet bounty with sugar and strong alcohol for the upcoming winter months. Close enough, though, right?
The word “Rumtopf” translates to “Rum Pot”. It’s a very traditional recipe that has been around long enough that some folks consider it to be old fashioned. The story goes that it was discovered by the rum importers back in the 1800s as a way to transport tropical fruit from the Caribbean over to Europe. Tradition dictates that Rumtopfs are started in late spring/early summer with the first fresh fruits of the year. More fruit is layered on as they come into season over the summer, always adding more sugar and rum. The container is usually a large stoneware crock (or even vat) that can hold several liters or a couple of gallons. Once the last seasonal fruit is added in late September or early October, it is left to mature for about 1 – 2 more months and then opened up to enjoy around Christmas. Now that fresh fruit is available year round at the super market, you can start this at any time of the year, as long as you can store it someplace cool. Essentially, this ends up being a type of alcoholic preserve or fruit compote that can be served on anything where you’d used a fruit syrup. Vanilla ice cream is the most popular.
I’m breaking the traditional “rules” a little (very un-German of me, I know) by making small Rumtopfs that will celebrate the flavour of one or two fruits. This is mostly because we don’t need that much and I simply wanted to see what using less variety would be like. In this post I’m showing you my apricot version, which I made a few weeks ago. In the next post I’ll highlight my blackberry-blueberry version while also going more into the different types of fruits and seasonings you can add. Later, I will do my Part Three post to show the final results of a matured Rumtopf.
The type of rum you use is very important. It must be overproof rum. Look for something around 100 – 110 proof or 50 – 55% alcohol by volume. If you use something less the fruit could ferment, which would give it a sour taste or potentially grow mold. Blech. You might be tempted to just go straight to 151 proof, but that’s just too strong for this. However, if you can’t find anything else, mixing a 151 proof with an 80 proof would certainly do the trick. Whether you use a light, dark or spiced rum, is completely up to your tastes buds. Best to use one that you’d actually drink versus something low quality. You’ll end up liking the results much better if you do. Originally, I had wanted to find an overproof spiced rum since spiced is a household favourite, but had a hard time finding anything over 90 proof at the local Total Wine. When I told one of the super helpful employees what I needed it for he right away recommended the Dillon Rhum from Martinique pictured above. Ooh Mama, it has such a sweet, floral scent which is just perfect for this. Love it.
Onward to the Rumtopf making!
The basic formula is a 2:1 ratio of fruit to sugar with enough rum to cover it all. Therefore, my cup of cut up apricots will be balanced with a half a cup of sugar. You can use either white or brown sugar. Again, that’s up to you. Had I used a spiced rum, I likely would have used a brown sugar.
I’m making mine in a snap lock container. Some say that it’s better to use something opaque so you don’t have to worry as much about it being in the dark. However, I’ve had these little glass containers sitting around for years and barely ever use them. Whatever type of container you end up using, you want two things – a way to close it and have enough room for about a 1/2 inch of rum over the fruit. Technically, yes, it’s not unusual for Rumtopfs to be closed up with some plastic wrap but having a lid is just way easier.
Next, pour the sugar over the fruit in the container.
Last, we pour in the overproof rum. Soak it all in, you luscious, little apricots. You don’t need to worry about shaking or stirring it. The sugar will start to settle on the bottom and that’s normal. Eventually, as the Rumtopf matures, the sugar will dissolve.
Now, we wait. Take that marinating Rumtopf and store it some place cool and dark, like a basement or pantry. I have mine settled on a shelf in the basement laundry room since it’s the only room with no windows. I’ve also covered it with a dark towel for good measure.
Quick Word of Caution
This is for the lightweights like me. When this is done, there will be more alcohol in the fruit than in the liquid. The sweetness of the fruit can easily mask how potent it can be. Use sparingly at first. Then again, don’t let me dictate how to drink your fruit!
Prost und Mahlzeit!
Here’s Part 2 – Rumtopf: Part Two (Blackberry Blueberry)
Small Apricot Rumtopf
- One cup of apricots or fruit of choice
- Half a cup of sugar
- Enough overproof rum 100 - 110 proof to cover
Wash apricots, remove stones and chop coarsely. Place apricots in small container - either stoneware, ceramic or snap lock glass. Add half cup of sugar to fruit. Pour alcohol over fruit and sugar mixture until there is 1/2 inch of rum over the fruit.
Store in cool dark place for 1 - 2 months.
Serve in small quantities over vanilla ice cream or use 2 parts sparkling wine and 1 part Rumtopf liquid for a sweet cocktail.
Feel free to leave the skins on the apricots or remove them.