Rumtopf : Fruit preserved in Alcohol

by Anna Perez
(San Antonio, TX)

Fruit in Alcohol

Fruit in Alcohol


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.

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.

Comments for Rumtopf : Fruit preserved in Alcohol

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Apples or not
by: Dawn

Can you use apples in rumtopf? I have an apple tree and inundated with fruit

Hi Dawn,
There's a debate about adding apples. Some people do and others don't like to. The apples' texture is something that is either liked or not. I'd suggest perhaps adding some apples to a small batch of rumtopf and then you'll see if you like it. That way, you'll know for next year and can either add lots or omit them.

by: Anke

The other fruit usually turn soft in the mix, apples don’t.
At best they get a little leathery. You munch on the soft fruit and all of a sudden you hit a piece with a totally different texture.
You could add apple but they have to be peeled and cut small.
Experimenting may be in order.
If you do, please, post your findings here.
Hope this helps.

Apples or not
by: Dawn

Thank you that's worth a go #happydays


Any comments about using EVERCLEAR in a Rumtopf? I generally just spoon out the fruit and leave the liquid for another batch, but like to hear others experience at starting with 190 Proof alcohol to preserve the fruit.

by: Anna Perez

You can bring the alcohol % in brandy, rum etc. up by adding Everclear. Rumtopf should have 50+% alcohol for best preservation for a long time.
Proof is double the number of %. 40% = 80 proof.
Based on the commonly available 40% rum etc.
Each 1/8 c. Everclear added to 1 c. 40% spirits, raises the alcohol % by 5%.
So 1 c 40% + 1/8 c Everclear = 45% and so on up.
Everclear by itself, makes the fruit harder and the liquid too harsh tasting IMHO.
But it could be certainly be done.

Reusing the Alcohol for the Next Rumtopf
by: Anonymous Annie

Reusing the Alcohol for the Next Rumtopf -- What a great idea! I have been so happy to try my hand at making this, but now that I have a gallon of rum, fruit and Everclear I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, especially since although I enjoy alcohol once in a very great while, I really couldn't figure out what I would do with all that alcohol. The idea of adding more fruit for next year is just perfect!

I'm wondering if adding half a vanilla bean would be a good idea. Any thoughts?

by: Laura

I've been trying ti decipher my great aunt's recipe, she was german, born and raised. What I couldn't figure out is in this modern age, store it in the fridge, especially since I don't live in a cooler climate.

I hear you on the berries and citrus. Just an fyi, her recipe, from her mother, notes to add the following fruits for best flavor as they become available.

Strawberries, gooseberries, cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, damsons, mirabelles, pears, oranges, mandarin oranges, or pineapple.

by: Anke

You can store it in the fridge, I live in San Antonio and mine is in the fridge.
But as long as the fruit are covered by the alcohol, and the jar is tightly sealed, the Rumtopf won’t spoil if you keep it in a dark place, like a pantry.
There are many more fruits that can be added when and where available. The ones with a thicker or waxy skin need to be cut in half at least or smaller, like plums. Also obviously, remove the pits first.

by: Anke

The alcohol content needs to be higher than what you can usually get in the store. 40-45% The everclear is to raise the % in whatever main alcohol you use.

Reusing the alcohol next year
by: Anke

You can certainly do that, just don’t add as much sugar, there is a lot of sugar left from the first batch.
You could fill the alcohol into pretty bottles and give them as gifts. I have some leftover alcohol in the fridge, since 2014.
I use it to top off a new batch of Rumtopf, if the fruits get uncovered. Also, after eating too much rich food, take a bit of the fluid, a small shot, it will help break down the fat from the meal. Kind of like an after-dinner drink like Underberg or Jägermeister...

Adding Vanilla bean
by: Anke

You can add vanilla bean, if you like a vanilla flavor. Cut the bean lengthwise and push it in u til it is covered.
Cinnamon stick, a clove could also be added. The flavor of these will get stronger the longer they steep. After a few month, sniff and take a sip, if you like the flavor as it is, remove the bean or other add-ins. If the vanilla/Cinnamon... flavor is too strong, take the bean or stick out, remove some of the alcohol and add new alcohol, to lighten the flavor.
In the dried fruit one, (see picture), I have 2 cloves and a cinnamon stick buried somewhere. It gives a spicy Christmassy (that may not be a word) smell and flavor. I then use that mix in my Stollen and Lebkuchen. If a recipe reads, "soak raisins in Rum..." you could soak them in Rumtopf alcohol, or use the fruit and alcohol instead of the raisins.
Hope this will help you.

The Age old delight!
by: Some call me Maurice

My family has been indulging in Rumtopf for 50+ years. The only % is Everclear, and the colour of the fruit doesn't matter! Best after the end of the first year of life. The crock lives in the coal bin (wine cellar) and there are batches 5 years old and even more potent than new (6 months). Pound cake is the most dense to absorb. Vanilla bean works the best. Don't drink it, enjoy it on the cake!

shelf life of rumtopf
by: Anonymous

I'm wondering how many years you can keep Rumtopf before it's considered dangerous or bad.

Shelf life
by: Anke Perez

I keep my Rumtopf in the back of the fridge in Mason jars. And have some that I put up 2017. Still good.
As long as the fruit are covered by the alcohol, the it won’t spoil. You can always add a bit more alcohol if needed.

Thank you!
by: Blu

I remember having rumtopf as a child. My mother somehow got a hold of the recipe (we're Irish), and also found a big earthenware glazed pot made in West Germany, with 'Rumtopf' and fruit printed in the glaze. I remember it was usually mostly damsons as we had so many of those fruits from our backyard tree, and they also made the liquid a wonderful colour.

Fast forward to a few years ago and I managed to find the same type of rumtopf pot in a second hand shop for £5, and since then rumtopf has been a staple of our Christmas. I like to share it between our neighbours and always get comments about how lovely it is. It can be hard to find the rum of a strong enough alcohol percentage, but thankfully I've managed to get a bottle each year.

It's so good to find a recipe from a native German person, as I wasn't sure I was doing it correctly, working from memory which isn't the best now!

Starting out
by: Beginner

Hi There, to be honest ive just started out Rumtoft's (i just bought a pot) whats the best rum to start with?.... normal?, dark?...spiced?
and fruits, once again, no idea....any help appreciated

Beat rum
by: Anke Perez

The best rum to use is up to you. I’d go with one that has a rich, full flavor. Check for the alcohol content. Higher is better or you need to use everclear to bring it up.
I personally, wouldn’t use spiced or rum with flavor added, since it may interfere with the flavor of the fruit or change over time.
Dark rum was the rum traditionally used, maybe it was the only available option.

reusing alcohol with dried fruit
by: Pat

I decided to add a little bit of Everclear to my left over Brandy to start another batch. I poured it in and it turned milky white to my dismay, especially since I had already put the new dried apricots in!?!?! I put the lid on and shook the jar and it cleared up. Is this ok really surprised me.
Also I have been making molded chocolate for 40 years and had expanded to chocolate covered apricots. Now I'm doing chocolate covered brandy infused apricots...
Thanks for all the great info and for the name Rumtopf, I grew up with a German Grandmother who made ALOT of brandied candied fruit loaves....

Re: reusing alcohol with dried fruit by: Pat
by: Anonymous

Hi Pat,
The everclear may have reacted with the sugars in the fruit or, if store bought apricots were used, the sulfuring that is used to keep the color. It’s not harmful but may stay as a residue on the bottom of the jar.
Chocolate covered Rumtopf fruit sound delicious, I may have to try making those.

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