Recipe: Rum pot (rum pickled fruit)

A taste of summer and the perfect homemade Christmas gift.

Continuing with my Christmas recipe series, I’d like to reintroduce you to the rum pot, which is essentially rum pickled fruit. I’ve already mentioned it in my Christmas post last year, when my boyfriend and I tried making it for the first time. It wasn’t quite perfect last year, but it turned out amazing this year, so I feel like I should share the recipe so you can give it a try too.

Rum pot or rumtopf, is a traditional German preserve, which used to be quite popular in Slovenia as well. My grandmother used to make it and I remember seeing adults eat it as a child, but it sort of disappeared off the radar in Slovenia in the past 20 years, or at least I hadn’t seen it. Anyway, it’s awesome, so I think everyone should know about it and we should bring it back in fashion!

Traditionally, a rum pot was started in spring when the first fruits ripened and more and more layers of fruit were added over the following months as they came in season. The fruit is preserved in sugar and rum and brings a taste of summer during the gloomy winter days, which also makes it the perfect Christmas present and what I’m giving to my friends and family. It’s simple and inexpensive to make. You can either do it the old way and start in the spring or buy all the fruit at the end of summer and put everything in the pot in one go.

Rum pot (rum pickled fruit) recipe

Ingredients

  • Rum (at least 37% alcohol volume)
  • Sugar
  • Fruit (apples, pears, plums, peaches, berries, apricots…) – the more variety, the better
  • Optional: vanilla, raisins/cranberries

Prep time: 30 – 60 minutes, depending on the amount of fruit to chop up

Cooking time: 4+ months

Instructions

Use a large, sealable container. A clay 6 litre rumtopf pot is traditionally used (you can see mine here), but you can also use glassware or even a regular mason jar, although it works better with larger containers. I wouldn’t recommend using plastic because of the presence of alcohol.

It’s hard to be specific for this recipe, but for a 6 litre pot you will need approximately 2-3 litres of rum, 2-3 kg of fruit and 1-2 kg of sugar. If you run out of ingredients halfway, you can always buy more and add them later, as long as the fruit is fully submerged in rum.

Wash, dry, core and dice the fruit into desired pieces.

Add a layer of fruit, cover with sugar and pour rum over until it completely covers the sugar (you’ll need at least 1:2 fruit to sugar ratio – the more the better). Keep adding layers of fruit, sugar and rum until your pot is full.

Leave at least a centimetre/inch of rum on top to make sure the fruit is completely submerged, same as with regular pickling.

Store in a dark, dry place for at least 4 months. Stir occasionally and add more rum if necessary to keep the fruit submerged. You can start tasting it after about 2 months.

If everything goes well, the alcohol level should drop to something that tastes of rum and carries a pleasant warmth, but doesn’t exactly pack a punch. The sugar should dissolve and the fruit should remain firm, but give away some of its colour. All in all, you should be left with a delicious fruit in a relatively thick, sweet rum slurry. Enjoy!

Notes

Rum pot is technically a preserve, so don’t use any visibly imperfect fruit. I also don’t recommend using bananas, oranges or any kind of citruses, pineapple or other tropical fruit, grapes and any fruit that has a mushy consistency. Firm, not overly ripe fruit is best.

Also, as far as rum is concerned, some people swear by using at least a bottle of double rum (the one with 75% alcohol) and mixing it with regular rum. Higher alcohol is supposed to prevent the fruit from boiling and going bad, which can happen in the beginning if it’s too hot and there’s not enough sugar and alcohol present. I’ve used regular rum both times and it was alright, so I can’t say for certain. However, if you do use double rum, you’ll need to wait much longer for the alcohol level to drop and the final rum pot will be a bit stronger.

This is not meant to be a drink, although the liquid could be used as a cordial, but it’s very sweet. You can eat it with pretty much anything – some of my favourite options are with vanilla ice cream, apple or curd strudel or any other kind of cake, biscuit or pastry.

So, what do you think? Would you give this rum pot recipe a try?

I really feel it makes for a perfect Christmas present, so if you want to have it done by Christmas, I suggest starting by the end of August. Remember to keep it somewhere dark, cold and dry, like in a cellar or a cold cupboard. It won’t turn out the same way twice and you can vary the fruit and sugar content to your taste, so it’s also a fun food experiment.

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