Rumtopf (literally “rum pot”) is a large sealable container holding fruits preserved in alcohol. The idea was that you added layers of fruit as they came into season. For that reason, strawberries usually constituted the first layer. They are placed in a large glass jar or earthenware pot, sprinkled with some sugar, and then covered with alcohol. The layers, with the sugar and alcohol, are repeated for various fruits as they come into season.
A Rumtopf can be kept for up to a year. Make sure the fruits are always covered in alcohol. If the fruit ferments, discard the Rumtopf. The fruits will ferment if not covered with enough alcohol.
Literature & Lore
“The rumtopf, or rum pot, is a traditional German method of preserving fruits throughout the year as they come into season. The fruit is preserved in a combination of sugar and rum, then allowed to mature for about a month. The liquor in which the fruit is steeped is served as a drink and the fruit itself makes a variety of wonderful desserts.
You will need a large ceramic pot (about 5 litres [10 UK pints] capacity) which has a close-fitting lid: special rumtopf pots with lids are available from kitchen shops. Starting in June, the first fruits of the season are preserved. Weight the fruit and for every 450 g (1 lb) of fruit add 225 g (8 oz) of sugar. Place the fruit in the thoroughly cleaned pot and sprinkle in the sugar, then leave it to stand for 1 hour.
Pour 700 ml (24 fl oz) golden or dark rum over the fruit. Cover the pot tightly, putting plastic film over it before putting the lid on, and leave it in a cool place. More fruit is added, allowing the same quantity of sugar to each 450 g (1 lb). Each time a layer of fruit is added, pour in more rum to cover the fruit by 1 cm [1/2 in]. As the summer progresses the following fruits should be added: strawberries, raspberries, grapes, black cherries (no need to stone the fruit, but prick the skin with a stainless steel fork), apricots, peaches (peel, halve and stone the apricots and peaches, then slice the peaches), plums (prick their skin all over with a stainless steel fork), peeled, cored pears (halve or slice them) and pineapple can be added last. The pineapple should be peeled, cored and cut into chunks; remember to remove all the spines. Once all the fruit is added, cover the pot tightly and leave it for 3 weeks. Add a final half bottle of rum, cover the pot and leave it for a further 3 – 4 weeks before serving.
The rumtopf is traditionally prepared for Christmas. The fruit can be served within a few days but it is best left to mature. The juice is a potent, full-flavoured drink and the fruit can be served with ice cream, with custard, or it can be mixed with almonds, then topped with whipped cream and chocolate curls.”1
In German, “rum” is “rum”; “topf” means “pot”.
Jones, Bridget, Ed. Home Preservation of Fruits and Vegetables. London: AFRC Institute of Food Research. 1989. 14th edition, revised. Page 98-99. ↩