Rumtoft – Much More Than Just One of Your Five a Day

Christmas is almost upon us and although many of us groan when we think of the expense, the shopping and all the preparation we need to do, there are some aspects of the festive season that you can’t help but look forward to.
The food and drinks on offer over Christmas is something which proves difficult to resist. We tend to indulge in drinking more beer and spirits at Christmas as well as the more unusual festive drinks such as ginger wine and some of the more unusual liqueurs. Sometimes it is nice to have a change, and one type of homebrew that’s worth spending time making is Rumtopf.
Meaning ‘rum pot’ in German, Rumtopf does need a bit of advance preparation. Traditionally, this was a method of preserving the fruits of the season by using alcohol – in this case rum. The first fruits appearing in the spring were added to a pot and covered in rum. Next, summer fruits were added as they became available and finally the autumn fruits such as pears. Nowadays every type of fruit is available at your supermarket all year round.
You can use many different types of fruit for this recipe, including raspberries, peaches, plums, grapes, apricots, cherries, pears, gooseberries, figs and currants.

drinks

Method
You can use a large heavy casserole dish to make your Rumtoft in, but why not invest in the real thing? Decorative Rumtoft pots are readily available on the internet.
First, weigh the fruit you are going to use. Make sure you only use ripe, dry but firm fruit, do not use any that is badly bruised of overripe and squishy. Prepare your fruit by giving it a good wash and gently shaking or patting dry. If you have any large pieces of fruit you need to cut them into equal chunks.
Add brown or caster sugar to your fruit (the amount to use is generally equal to half the weight of your fruit). Let the fruit and sugar stand for an hour and add enough rum to completely cover the fruit plus a little more.
Make sure all the fruit is completely submerged – balance a small saucer on top of the fruit if you need to. Close the lid of the Rumtoft, cover in clingfilm to avoid evaporation and leave it in a cool dark place.
The Rumtoft needs to stand for at least 6-8 weeks (if you can bear to leave it alone) but you should check on it every now and then to make sure it is a nice dark russet colour. Do not be tempted to stir the Rumtoft.
All that remains to do is sip up and enjoy – Prost!

Nicholas Vine enjoys making his own homebrew, he recommends www.goodlifehomebrew.com for all your supplies (including Rumtoft pots).

Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/buymelunch/7960064592/

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