Penna How-to: Make Old World Rumtopf

Preserve summer's bounty with this old-world method of combining ripe fruit, sugar and spirits. Drizzled on cakes, served over ice cream or eaten straight, rumtopf (literally translated means "rum pot") is traditionally enjoyed at Christmas time.

It's best to start harvesting fruit as it comes into season to have a variety of textures and flavours, but if you're getting a later start in summer, less variety is fine. Fruit and berries a bit too ripe to eat on their own are great for adding to a rumtopf. It's a very forgiving preserving method, so no need to be too fussy. It's basically sugar, rum and fruit in equal measure. You just keep adding to the pot as fruit comes into season. And if you're not keen on rum, vodka or brandy works just as well 



In season fruit: strawberries, raspberries, plums, peaches, pears, blueberries and blackberries are traditional.

Sugar: 1 cup (200 grams) of sugar for every pound (450 grams) of fruit

Rum, vodka or brandy: 750 ml (1.5 cups) for every pound (450 grams) of sugar

Rum pot: a container big enough to hold several pounds of fruit and cups of rum. A three gallon crock is standard, but large canning or storage jars can be used. As long as you can seal the vessel, you're good to go. 


Prep your fruit. Wash, hull, de-stem, remove pits etc and place in your rum pot. Larger fruit should be roughly chopped, but berries and even small plums should be left whole. Sprinkle sugar on top, mix gently and allow to macerate for a couple of hours. 

Pour the rum over top of the fruit and seal the rum pot. Store in a cool, dark place until you add more fruit―following the same ratios as before. Continue to add to the pot until the fresh fruit stops growing ―usually ending with pears in September. 

Come October, you can cinnamon sticks, star anise or even juniper berries. Or leave it plain, its up you. Just seal up the rum pot and return it to a cool dark place. Bring it out in December and enjoy! Rumtopf also makes a special holiday gift if you can bear to share.