While I love all of the New England seasons (yes, even winter), we only get to enjoy fresh fruit for perhaps a third of the year. The strawberries and raspberries weigh heavy on their vines in June. The apples boom in September. In between, we’re picking blackberries and blueberries. But come October, we’re gleaning the last pickings of the garden before the first frost.
How do we cope? By preserving food, of course. And there are many ways to do this. Most of the time, we just freeze whatever is extra from any picking. Truth is though, frozen raspberries just don’t do it for me. However, there are more labor intensives means of preserving that might yield richer results. You can dry fruit in an oven or dehydrator. You could also make jam.
Sometime soon, I’ll write a post about making jam. For now, suffice to say that jam is yummy but expensive, both in materials and in labor. We make a lot of jam, but today we enjoyed fruit that we had preserved a different way. In rum!
We first found the Rumtopf recipe in an Edible Boston magazine maybe 4-5 years ago. We were skeptical of this strange mix of fruit, sugar, and rum. However, since this was before the kids came along, our spirits were not yet broken and we were game for experiments.
Rumtopf means Rum Pot and hails from Germany and Denmark, where it was used as a means of preserving the fruits of the seasons. You quite literally start with a pot. When the raspberries are ripe, dump a pound of them into the pot. Add half that amount of sugar. Let sit for an hour, then pour in enough rum to cover them up. Drop a lid over it all and keep out of the sun. When the blueberries come into season, add them on top, with more sugar. Cover with rum. Same with the plums, then the pears. You can use almost any fruit, as long as it will hold up in the alcohol. I wouldn’t use strawberries or watermelons, for instance, but I’m sure apples or cherries would work well.
We don’t use a big pot here are Paper Crane, rather a bunch of pint sized mason jars. Each get perhaps a half cup of each fruit. We like the mason jars for their screw on lids. Also, at the end of the season, we have a flat of jars of delightfully sweet rummy fruit that can be opened individually for special occasions.
The fruit is great, but I get the most use of the now dessert quality rum. I drizzle it on cakes, pies, and ice cream. They also make good holiday/birthday gifts on the rare occasions I can part with them.
I’ve long since lost the original rumtopf recipe, but it’s hard to go wrong mixing fruit, sugar, and rum. Most recipes call for dark rum, but I prefer a clear rum myself. We usually aim for a 2:1 fruit to sugar ration. The rum is the preserving agent. Make sure you use enough rum to cover everything and it will keep basically forever, unless you eat it first. Which you will.