This season’s rumtopf has begun. It’s a lovely, steady, summer-long process that produces a big crock full of precious, alcoholic, syrupy, spicy, well-preserved summer fruits.
I expected to start with peaches from my garden, but we didn’t have many this year and the possums got to them before I could net the the tree. But Robyn came to the rescue with some loquats from her sumptuous garden. We ate a pile and had enough left to put down the first layer.
I cleaned up the loquats in preparation – peeled off the outer skin (comes off very easily) and scraped/peeled off the inner skin that sits around the large seeds.
The halved fruit went tightly packed across the bottom of the jar. Over the top I poured an equal weight of sugar to the prepared fruit (I used a mix of white and raw). Let that sit for an hour or two. You’ll see a layer of liquid across the bottom of the jar at the end of that time, which is a mix of fruit juices and dissolved sugar.
Then pour in enough overproof rum to cover. I started with Bundaberg Red (which is 50% alcohol, making it barely qualify as overproof).
As the summer goes along, I will progressively use a lower proportion of sugar to fruit, but that will be a slow transition, down to 500g to I kg fruit by the end. You should add rum each time, even if the liquid level doesn’t seem to require it.
The mixture needs to be stirred daily for the first couple of days after each load of fruit is added, to make sure the sugar dissolves.
When there is a little more fruit I will also add a cinnamon stick and some star anise.
In between times cover it and leave it somewhere cool and dark (whatever your equivalent of a German cellar is. I would so love one of those).
Lastly, put something on top to keep the fruit below the surface of the liquid. I use a circle cutout of heavy plastic sheet net that you get from a place like Spotlight. You could also use a plate. Last year I used one of those plastic resealable sandwich bags filled with water. It worked, but I don’t recommend it for this – too messy, and there’s always the possibility it might leak.