We finished an almost yearlong experiment this past week – not at the lab, but at home. You see, last year a friend of our had inherited Rumtopf from an elderly aunt and wanted to know if we could try it.
Now, I had never heard of a Rumtopf before, but my Germanic curiosity was peaked. As it turns out, a Rumtopf is a ceramic crock that is designed to marinate fruit, sugar and rum for months, so that at the end of the year you have an extract of fruity rummy awesomeness.
So, way back in the spring, we started with an empty Rumtopf crock, a pound of strawberries, and a half-cup of sugar. We put those things in the Rumtopf and covered them with dark rum. The lid went on with an extra seal of plastic wrap and the whole thing was put in the back of the pantry.
This process (pound of fruit, half-cup of sugar, cover with rum, back in the pantry) is done several times over the course of the spring and summer. Over the next few months, we added grapes, nectarines, pears and plums (there is a good guide here). The final addition went in late in September and we hadn’t touched it since.
We decided to have our friend over for the opening of the Rumtopf and decided to make it a German affair. We made a dinner of sausages, sautéed cabbage (Napa cabbage, come on, this IS California) and pretzels.
We strained the liquid from the fruit. The fruit was all brown in color (as you might imagine) and had a really pungent rum taste. Remember Rum Raisin ice cream? It was like that x100. We had some on pound cake and decided that a little went a long way.
But the liquid? Oh my. It was a dark caramel in color and rich with spices and fruit. We each had a small glass of it and declared it an unqualified success – and makes a fantastic after dinner dessert drink. ( Question: Have any of you done this before? And if so, why haven’t you told me about it?)
There was enough that I know it will last through the New Year, but like the Holidays, I’m sure its wonderful sweetness will be but a memory by February.
But that’s okay, the local strawberries will be in by March and we can start a batch for 2012.