A Rumtopf ends, a Rumtopf begins

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It doesn’t look pretty, but it’s incredibly delicious. Something magical happens over autumn and winter and the result is this softy, spicy, sweet, alcoholic dessert that’s perfect with ice-cream.

A Rumtopf is another of those old-fashioned things, when a careful cook puts away the excess of summer so they can open it up in the dreariest of cold months and get a burst of warm sunshine.

This is the last of this year’s preserve, and I’ll be planning to start the next as soon as the first soft fruit of the season is ripe. The first local peaches (off my tree, though not many there this year), will be within the month, and then I’ll be off.

If you haven’t done one before, it’s time to prepare. You need a glass jar or ceramic crock with a lid. Put down a layer of soft fruit, then a layer of sugar and top with over-proof rum or other alcohol. Keep adding to it, one fruit at a time, all summer and autumn, topping up with sugar and rum each time. Keep the container covered and make sure you put something on top of the liquid to keep the fruit below the surface.

This year I’m adding a cinnamon stick and a couple of star anise, maybe a couple of all spice.

The over-proof aspect of the alcohol is important and don’t skimp on the sugar, even if you think you want to. You’ll be leaving it for at least 3 months and it can go mouldy very quickly if you’re not careful. I was in a rush last year and the only overproof rum I could find at the time was Bundaberg Red, and that worked fine, but I want to try a white rum this year.

Any soft fruit is OK. Berries add a nice flavour but usually have to be removed before you can eat it (it somehow sucks the flesh out and you’re left with tough seedy husks). Some of the tougher plums in this lot were not so great. Figs were good.



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