Rumtopf : Fruit preserved in Alcohol
by Anna Perez
(San Antonio, TX)
Fruit in Alcohol
THIS IS A VERY HIGH ALCOHOL TREAT. IF THAT IS NOT YOUR THING, SKIP THE RECIPE.
RUMTOPF is a traditional way to preserve fruit in alcohol. While rum is traditional, hence the name, it can also be made with other spirits, like Vodka, Brandy... so long as the alcohol % is high enough, and the fruits remain covered in the liquid. It lasts for years in a cool dark place, and gets better the longer it is allowed to steep.
The pictures are from the batch I made in 2014, it is now 2018, (just had some over ice cream and it gave me quite a buzz),
I keep the jars in the back of my fridge.
Delicious by themselves, over ice cream, as the alcohol used in Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte and I add some to my Weihnachtsstollen.
50%+ alcohol content is needed to prevent spoiling, I use 55%. HOWEVER, the spirits commonly available in the US, do not have a high enough % to preserve long without spoiling. 40% or around 80 proof is most common.
Proof number is twice the % number
40% = 80 proof
So here is the method to raise the alcohol % in the commonly available spirits,.
OUT COMES THE EVERCLEAR, a 95% clear grain alcohol.
Based on 40% alcohol in, say brandy or vodka
Each 1/8 c. Everclear added to 1 c 40%, raises the alcohol % by 5%.
So 1c 40% + 1/8 c Ever. = 45%. = 90 proof
1c 40% + 1/4 c Ever, = 50%, = 100 proof... you get the picture.
DO NOT USE FLAVORED ALCOHOL FOR THIS, what you add provides the flavor.
Traditionally Rumtopf was an ongoing process. In a big crock, the first fruits/berries of the harvest, peaches washed, peeled and cut up, (only the best quality, no blemishes to prevent spoiling) were put into the crock, sugar was added, the fruits were covered with alcohol, the crock was closed and stored cool and dark. Before refrigeration, in the cellar in the back of a shelf, out of sight out of mind, until the next fruits, strawberries were ripe, they and more sugar and alcohol went in, all through the Fall harvest. Apples and pears were peeled and chopped.
Then it was stored to mature until at least Christmas.
NO PRIOR SAMPLING WAS ALLOWED OR, SO LORD HELP YOU, THE LADY OF THE HOUSE WOULD NOT BE FORGIVING AND NO RUMTOPF FOR YOU THAT YEAR.
Fruit and berries that are not good for this are gooseberries, blueberries and others with hard waxy skins, The alcohol can not penetrate the skins. Raspberries turn very hard in the alcohol but can be used. AND NO CITRUS.
Dreid fruit bits can also be used. Some companies sell the chopped up mixed fruit bits in bags. I like those.
Or mix your own. Different varieties of raisins, cherries, apple and pear pieces...
Rumtopf jar or canning jars with lids.
Best quality fruit, berries, cleaned and stoned (the fruit, not you) or dried fruit.
Alcohol of choice (rum, vodka, brandy...)
Everclear if needed.
- Clean your container and lid.
- Add your choice of fruit, fill to 1” of top of jar
- add white sugar, I use about 1/3 - 1/2 c for a 1 qt jar. Remember, the fruit adds sweetness, too
- alcohol and Everclear mix to cover all the fruit and sugar.
Some fruit will float, they sink when they absorb the liquid
- seal the jar tightly, place cool and dry (mine sit in the back of my fridge) and forget about them for
- check occasionally if a bit more alcohol needs to be added to cover the fruit.
If you use dried fruit, only fill the jar 2/3 full, they expand as they rehydrate. Fill the jar with the alcohol all the way. And use only 1/4 - 1/3 c sugar, dried fruit is very sweet by itself,
In my dried fruit concoction, I add 1 4” cinnamon stick, 2 cloves and 1/3 of a vanilla bean, cut lengthwise
Stuff them right in, then add the alcohol.
It makes for a spiced mix, good for Winter and Stollen.
Enjoy in moderation and don’t drive after.