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Rumtopf : Fruit preserved in Alcohol

by Anna Perez
(San Antonio, TX)

Fruit in Alcohol

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 luquid. 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 provids 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, untill the next fruits, strawberries were ripe, they and more sugar and alcohol went in, all through the Fall harvest. Apples and pears were pealed 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...

REQUIREMENTS:
Rumtopf jar or canning jars with lids.
Best quality fruit, berries, cleaned and stoned (the fruit, not you) or dried fruit.
Sugar
Alcohol of choice (rum, vodka, brandy...)
Everclear if needed.

RECIPE:
- 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 jar tightly, place cool and dry (mine sit in the back of my fridge) and forget about them for
SEVERAL MONTH
- check occasionally if a bit more alcohol needs to be added to cover the fruit.

EXCEPTION:
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,

TIP:
In my dried fruit concoction, I add 1 4” cinnamon strick, 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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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.

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...

Everclear
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.

Fridge
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.

Awesome
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.

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?

Everclear
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.

EVERCLEAR
by: FRANK

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.

Apples or not
by: Dawn

Thank you that's worth a go #happydays

Texture
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

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

*******
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.

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