German Rumtopf (aka Rumpot)

We returned from vacation last week and I’m slowly returning to my daily routine. Last night, I successfully made dinner and this morning I made a pot of coffee. Our laundry is finally caught up and I’ve managed to upload nine albums of vacation photos. Now, I just need to write this post to feel as though I’m fully back in the saddle once again.

The Celebrity cruise turned out to be an amazing trip through 7 countries and I would gladly do a cruise again. For a ship servicing 2,000 guests (and 1,000 crew), I found the food to be good quality and in great abundance (sadly, I’ve sprouted new love handles due to it). You’ll find an interesting review of cruise food in the UK Guardian’s Word of Mouth blog post, “Cruising for a bruising“, which raises a few good points although seems too be critical for the sake of being critical.

I made a conscious choice not to photograph my food on the ship, although you may see a few shots of food from the port cities. I decided to enjoy the trip and not make the camera a third wheel. We focused on the amazing cities we visited instead, Stockholm our favorite closely followed by Helsinki.

I left for vacation with one small food related goal – to attain a ceramic crock. Last month, I received a suggestion to make rumpot (aka rumtopf) with my excess of freshly picked strawberries. I wasn’t familiar with rumpot, a German method of preserving seasonal fruits in a mix of sugar and rum, which also seems to have a following here in Canada.

As fruits are at their seasonal best, you add 2 parts fruit to one part sugar. Let the sugar and fruit sit for 30 minutes then pour into the rumpot. Each time fruit is added, top the rumpot mixture with enough rum to cover the fruit by 1/2 inch (or so). I anticipate using a total of 10 cups fruit, 5 cups sugar and about 1 liter of amber rum. Sounds potent, eh?

The mix is continually added to throughout the summer month’s and is then allowed to sit throughout the fall. At Christmas, the crock is opened and the perfectly preserved contents drizzled over cakes, ice cream or used in trifles. The liquid can even be strained as served as a fruity liquor.

I had searched for a nice sturdy ceramic crock in Vancouver but didn’t find anything. One of our port stops was in a charming resort town named Warnemunde, Germany. I figured it was a long shot to find an appropriate “rumpot” but decided to give it a try. We visited many shops throughout town and didn’t have any luck.

Before boarding the ship, we went into a large souvenir shop located at the port. Surprisingly, one of the first items I found were jars of prepared rumtopf. With a little more searching, I found a table in the corner containing beautiful brown crocks of all different sizes. I opted for the 3 liter crock and tried not to think about having to lug it home.

german-crock-2

I’ve since started my rumpot using this recipe as a starting point. So far, I’ve added peaches and cherries (and plenty of amber rum). Here is the current view inside the pot:

rumpot_color

I’ll add raspberries, blackberries and pears in the weeks ahead. In a few months, I’ll crack it open and reveal the contents. I’m curious if anyone has made a rumpot before? If you’d like to join in, it’s not too late. It would be interesting to see what fruits others would choose and how you’d use it when fully preserved.

Aside from the crock, we bought a cushion cover in Finland and a ceramic vase in Estonia. The crock however is my largest and heaviest souvenir purchase to date. Once the rumpot is done, I look forward to using it in the spring to make pickles!

Update:

  • Adding juice from 1/2 lemon; the citric acid should assist in preventing spoilage and may help retain fruit color
  • Using glass plate inside the crock to weight down the fruit so that it’s fully covered by the rum and not exposed to the air

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kim (Edible/Usable) August 6, 2009, 1:05 pm

    This sounds really amazing. Especially using the contents for deserts. It will be like summer fruit in winter.

    I’m trying a liquor infusion for the first time as well: Nocino or Liqueur de noix – Green walnuts with sugar and spices left to infuse in vodka for 2 months. (There’s a recipe here: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2009/07/liqueur_de_noix_green_walnut_liq.html) Infusing different foods in liquor is entirely new to me and I can’t wait for the results.

    Even if the rumpot doesn’t turn out as well as you want it to, it’s a beautiful crock.

  • Ginny August 6, 2009, 1:08 pm

    I’m glad you had a wonderful vacation! i’m excited to see how this rumpot turns out. What other container could I use to make it? I would love to try.

  • Allen August 6, 2009, 5:17 pm

    Kim: the green walnut infusion sounds interesting — look forward to hearing out it turns out!

    Ginny: well, I’m no expert … it’s all very new to me. From what I’ve read though, you can use a heavy crock (with lid) and allow the mix to sit in a cool place. The heavy crock will keep the mix an even temperature and shut out any sunlight. You can also make it in the fridge using one (or several) large canning jars or similar large containers. Since it will be refrigerated (kept at an even temperature and protected from sunlight), you should be able to use any clear glass containers (with lids). I would not use metal or plastic.

  • Peter G August 6, 2009, 7:00 pm

    Ooh! I do like this rumtopf idea Allen…I bet it will be beautiful in the winter time…not to mention all that alcohol! A great idea!

  • Laura August 6, 2009, 10:52 pm

    Sounds fascinating. My grandma used to something similar in a half gallon jar but with fruit and brandy. Really really good with lamb.

  • kat August 7, 2009, 7:31 am

    This is going to be interesting to follow & see how it goes. I might have to try this next year so I can start when each berry comes into season

  • tigress August 7, 2009, 10:06 pm

    first off, i am suffering from crock envy right now…
    secondly, this rumpot idea sounds absolutely amazing. its the very kind of thing that keeps me up at night, i must try it!

  • Gera @ SweetsFoods August 8, 2009, 4:55 pm

    Allen hope you’ve had a wonderful vacations (I’m sure)!
    I’m not familiar with rumtopf also….very interesting with rum ohh sound excellent with those berries!

    Cheers,

    Gera

  • Manggy August 9, 2009, 10:22 am

    I almost can’t believe you traveled a quarter of the way around the world to get a ceramic pot, but then again that’s what I would do, too ;) Sounds awesome. Here we just have, er, clay pots ;)
    You’re such a celebrity, Allen :)

  • Kristina August 13, 2009, 9:01 am

    I have made this and have a massive ceramic crock. My German husband said it is important also to make certain all the fruit is properly submerged in the sugary rum. With fruit poking out of the liquid, there is a chance of spoilage. I put a ceramic plate with a ziploc baggie containing a large can of veggies on top to keep the fruit under the level of rum.

    Also, the rumtopf is usually started when the strawberries are ripe (May for me). I typically add peaches, blackberries and raspberries as well. I think I added pears and apples once.

    One other hint is to give it a light stir after the addition of a new fruit.

    My husband said this is traditionally first tasted during Advent and is not served until Christmas Eve. He likes to sip it while I prefer it over ice cream, pound cake or both!

    Hope you enjoy it!

  • Eric Barker August 17, 2009, 9:52 am

    I’m having local potter make a rumpot vessel as we speak. Lid and plate to match.

  • Tiffany S. August 19, 2009, 5:09 pm

    Yum! I’m staying away from white sugar but I think it might still work without it (sugar in rum doesn’t count). Hope you are getting fabulous blueberries this time of year like we are in Seattle. I never even liked them until this year but they’re smaller and sweeter, unlike any blueberry I’ve had before. Can’t wait to check back to see how your creation went.

    The pot itself is beautiful and worth the lugging around for sure!

  • Allen August 19, 2009, 5:35 pm

    Tiffany – I would be cautious of trying this without sugar as it is one the preservation agents (in addition to the rum). It’s likely that you’d face spoilage if you omit the sugar entirely.

    We’ve been getting the most beautiful, sweet blueberries up here — I can’t get enough of them!

  • Bschmidt August 22, 2009, 6:22 pm

    My grandmother always had rumpot! What memories! As a child I didn’t care for it, but would watch my dad and other relatives go crazy for it! (I acquired a taste for it when I got older!) Although we are German, Grandma added to it every monthand when ever we were all together we had it on icecream or cake. She kept hers in an air-tight glass container.

    Although I like the idea of the crock, as a child I would always look for the colorful contents in the glass crock on her kitchen shelf! Thanks for bringing back some great memories – and good luck with you rumtopf!

  • Hélène August 29, 2009, 11:44 pm

    So glad you enjoyed the cruise. I can’t wait to do another one. There is so many great places to see. I did not take pictures of my food either on the ship.

  • Sonia September 23, 2009, 12:40 am

    Hello!

    I made one years ago…it is the most anticipated Christmas gift! Everyone loved it. Fun to make!! Question: There are now certain family & friends who canot have liquor….what could replace the rum for these guests….(I plan to make one alcoholic and one not to make everyone happy.
    Thanks in advance.
    Sonia

  • Ian October 7, 2009, 10:50 am

    I have been making rum pot for years, but this year, when I added plums last week, it started to ferment. I lifted off the top fruit, but it started fermenting again. I have lifted the top fruit off again to-day. Any ideas how I can save the pot?

  • Serena October 10, 2009, 7:23 am

    Hi, I have a rumpot which was given to me & I have followed the recipe which came with it, however I note that you have a plate or something to put on top of the fruit to keep it under rum, I only have the lid to put on top of the rumpot but I have put clingfilm under this in order to avoid evaporation of the alcohol, do you think this will be ok? Its the first time I have tried it and would hate to lose the contents, if you can advise me at all I would appreciate it, kind regards Serena

  • Allen October 16, 2009, 1:21 pm

    Ian — I don’t know what you should do as this is only my first time attempting rumpot. If you find a solution, please let me know!

    Serena — I weighted the contents down with a plate based on other comments I had seen when looking at other recipes online. There’s always the chance that fruit exposed to air will begin to rot, so it’s weighted down in order to keep it fully covered by the rum/sugar mix. Since this is my first time making rumpot, I decided to weight it down to make sure nothing spoiled.

  • Deb Weyrich-Cody December 16, 2009, 12:04 am

    Your beautiful rumtopf has a lip in the top rim which is designed to hold water. This provides a seal to keep airborne bacteria out & prevent spoilage.
    There are similar crocks for making sauerkraut.
    Enjoy!

  • bigger December 19, 2009, 10:59 am

    I’m late, but, you should not add dark berries to the rumtopf. I was stationed in Germany in the 80s; and lived there as a child–altogether for more than 12 years of my life. Since then, I have made a rumtopf nearly every year. So, I fancy myself a minor expert. I was also trained by the best!!!

    I tasted my rumtopf for the first time today that I started back in May. It’s not the best I ever had, but, it will cause us to have a good ole time, anyway!!! You should have used 151 Rum to help preserve your fruit, but, be careful not to over-do it. (This recommendation is more for next year’s rather than now). Also, you should only use light or bright colored fruits with a meaty texture–like pineapples, strawberries, grapes. If you use blueberries, and other dark berry type fruits, they will make your rumtopt a “muddy” unappealing color; and they will fall apart / breakdown. So, use whatever fruits you want, but, try to stay away from the things that will “de-color” your final product; and that will naturally collapse.

    If you want an authentic rumtopf container, google it, and you will find a few that you can order. I brought mine back from Germany with me–but, this year I had to wrap it in cellophane since I noticed the container had crackled and I’m getting sippage. By the by, I usually put a piece of cellophane over the top of the container, secured with a rubber band, then I place the cover on top of that. I usually make a drip point in the cellophane by placing a heavy object in the center (like a few beans or something) before securing with the rubberband. Of course I remove the beans after I have created the drip point. The pot is really decorative, so it had normally sat in the dining room atop a buffet (kind of out of the way, cool place). After discovering the leak, I have placed it on the kitchen counter top (granite).

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