Each year, lots of Germans start a Rum Pot during the summer months and enjoy the fruits of their work by the end of the year. This sort of “long-term project” also makes a great Christmas gift for friends and neighbors, if you refill the rum pot content into several smaller jars. It’s like conserving the last summer in a jar and mainly in December, this delicious (alcoholic) treat is enjoyed on top of ice cream or other desserts.
The concept is pretty simple: Use the fruits you like (except for bananas, they don’t work very well), clean and cut them, add them to the jar and add some sugar. Then add enough rum to the jar to cover the fruits. Every time you add fruits, add sugar and rum. Continue through the whole summer and finish it in fall maybe with some sugar plums. Let it soak until December and either enjoy it yourself or give the rum pot as a gift to other people. You can get some mason jars for that and decorate them nicely with my beautiful Rum Pot tags.
Which fruits for the Rum Pot
I chose fruits that have been available in Germany during my childhood but this doesn’t mean that you have to stick to strawberries and peaches. You could go tropical or Asian and add pineapple, kiwi, lychees, … all kinds of fruits that you love. I recommend starting with fruits that will not get mushy easily at the bottom. Important is, that all fruits are undamaged, have no mold or rot or have anything you wouldn’t want to eat in fresh fruit.
How much fruit?
Well, knock yourself out but keep in mind that your jar has its limits! It should all fit into the pot and still be covered with rum. And if everything is covered with alcohol, you don’t have to fill the jar up to the rim.
How much sugar?
Good question, right? The answer is: As much as you like! If you want to cover the – let’s call it “sharp” – taste of the rum, then you should use more sugar but if you are totally into the rum taste, maybe use a little less. I remember my parents completely covering each layer of fruits with sugar.
How long do I have to wait?
Since back in the days fruits had to be in season in order to be bought at the store or picked in the garden, we would finish the layers in September with sugar plums, pears, or apples. From then the rum pot would stand until December, which means 2 to 3 months. But since we can get most summer fruits already early in the summer, this could mean that you can enjoy your rum pot about 2.5 months after you added the last fruits. Also, there is no rule that forbids you from tasting the fruits earlier (as you could learn from the video I tried this quite successfully).
Rum Pot traditions
In many families, it is a tradition to start enjoying the rum pot on the 1. Advent, which is the last Sunday in November. I can imagine that Americans want to change that to Thanksgiving?
One more thing …
… keep it well hidden from your kids! The fruits are sweet and this attracts children like honey attracts Winnie Pooh. If you don’t want your teens to taste, be creative, put up a “High Voltage” sign or anything the like next to the place where you hide that jar!
Traditional German Rum Pot – Rumtopf
- fruits like peaches, strawberries, blackberries, …
- rum, i.e. 54%
- Wash, clean and cut your fruits.
- Add a layer of fruits to a large jar.
- Add a layer of sugar on top of the fruits, then fill as much rum into the jar as needed to cover the fruits.
- If the fruits float, use a plate on top of the fruits to weigh them down and make sure all fruits are covered with rum!
- Continue to add a layer of fruits and sugar during the summer and always fill enough rum in to cover all fruits.
- Let stand for 2.5 to 3 months (or longer).
- Enjoy on i.e. ice cream, pudding or cake or eat the fruits without anything and drink the rum.
63 thoughts on “Traditional German Rum Pot – Rumtopf”
Hi. I love your recipes. What brand of rum do you use. I made this last year and used a cheap rum that ended up not tasting very good. Want to try again.
I actually can’t remember what brand I was using and haven’t made a rum pot the last years. I’m afraid I can’t give you advice here but maybe someone else will read your question and can help?
I’ve made it for many years, and whenever my sister-in-law is in town, I will find her sneaking some for a “taste”. Needless to say it’s a particular favourite of hers.
Do the apples and pears have to be pealed?
Yes, I would really recommend it.
David I am making a rumtopf for the first time, I have used Grey Goose Vodka 49% proof will that be strong enough sprit as I don’t see any 54% and I want to keep my fruits fresh and avoid possible mould can you advise me
Hi , could I put gin in my rumtopft pot with fruit to try and make a fruit gin ? I used to love getting homemade sloe gin at Xmas but sloes are hard to come by so thought I’d try it with raspberries etc
I don’t know, I never heard of Sloe Gin.
My rum pot is full and sealed. Do I have to keep it in the fridge, or should it stay on the counter top?
I think that has to be decided on your climate and temperature in the house. In Germany, where it is rather cool, we keep it at “a cool, dark place” which is often the basement or pantry. Here in Texas, I have the house very warm, so I put it into the fridge. I have to admit, that I have two fridges, so it is no big deal for me since I have enough space. If I had only one fridge, I would probably get a little annoyed, having it in there for months.
Thank you! That helps. Ch
Well done, LOVELY! I also tried it with raspberries only and Kirsch instead of Rum. Delicious, and the ‘juice’ can be used for flavouring deserts e.g. chocolate mousse, or cakes with a raspberry & cream filling.
I use vodka about 1 and a half litres, fill it with summer fruits and cherries,and sugar (enough to give you a prefered taste)leave in the bowl stirring daily for 10 days or so.all the friut is filled with the vokda, so I strain without breaking the fruit and before putting in a kilner jar, you may want to add some sugar layers depending. The Vodka I bottle as it’s a beautiful dark summer friut one and the fruits for Christmas! very delish.
You can use cheap vodka for this as all the flavours will seep into it from the fruits.
I was wondering if you could use Vodka. I didn’t like the rum that I used a couple years ago.
I don’t know if it would taste with Vodka. To be honest, I never had Vodka in my life so I can’t even guess.
Can I use remaining liquor to start the new jar rumtof
Yes, you can do that.
When I was in Germany two years ago the family I visited had had their rumtopf going for years. They just kept adding and adding (while using the fruit/ syrup). I think the gentleman said it had been “continuous” for 15 years. It was absolutely divine as well with the vanilla ice cream they served.
Hi I have noticed when I looked at my Rumpot looked mouldy on top only started making it several weeks ago is this ok to carry on adding more fruit and Rum or is it gone off what should I do should I through it out
if there is mold on or in the rumpot, please throw it all out and start over. There are three reasons that come to my mind why this has happened:
1. the rum you were using had not enough alcohol percentage
2. the fruit you used wasn’t fresh and had damaged or moldy parts
3. the fruit was not completely covered with alcohol
There might have been other factors, too, like temperature or not enough sugar but the three reasons above are the most common mistakes.
I hope you will have more luck with your next batch.
A couple of questions on Rumtopf ingredients…could I use powdered glucose instead of sugar and spiced rum rather than dark rum?
I don’t know powdered glucose and I’ve never tried to make it with dark rum, sorry I can’t answer this. You’ll have to try it to find out.
Concerning the rum, I use 50-50. 50% dark rum and 50% 151 proof. In response to an earlier question. Once we began to enjoy our fruit, it was always gone while it was still cold outside. We did not like it with all 151 proof. It is so over powering, we lost the taste of the fruit.
I started a Rumkopf 3 years ago and added the usual fruits and rum, never any sugar and every year I looked at it and said “we must try this” but for some reason never did. I checked it a few days ago and found that it was nearly dry of moisture but the fruit was still edible and tasted yummy, So in the next summer will start again and this time. pay more attention to the way of keeping it fresh.
Other first time I sampled my Rumtopf it seemed to sweet so I added more rum. So it’s been about a month and I just sampled again and now i taste to much rum .So should I add more sugar?
I think I would add more sugar but it’s totally up to you.
Does the alcohol have to be rum? I know it’s called Rumtopf but are there variations?
I’ve never heard of making it with anything else than rum.
I’ve been making rumpots every year for the past 3 years and I’ve done some experimenting. I like to do a whiskey and peach rumpot with cinnamon and vanilla. My dad likes his with a spicy pepper added. I’ve also added wild persimmon and it turned out amazing. I usually grill the peaches first. You can use wild turkey 101, but my favorite has been George Dickel mixed with white lightning moonshine.
One more thing I’ve really liked is adding Malibu coconut rum to tropical mixes. But you don’t need much.
I’ve experimented with red and white wines and gin as well and they all turned out well, but they didn’t make it into my hall of fame batches.
It should be at least 80% proof, which is about 40% alc/vol. I successfully make rumtopf every year with 40% abv rum.
Also, try Whiskey for an alternative flavour
I have a question regarding the type of jars which can be used. Does the lid need to be airtight or does it matter?
The lid doesn’t have to be airtight. The high percentage of alcohol will keep the fruits from rotting. But make sure they are all covered in the rum. If they are floating, use a small plate to put on top of the fruits so they are submerged.
Barbara, thank you so much for the recipe! This is the first time I have made a rumtopf and it turned out great! I would like to give some in small fancy jars as gifts. I’m assuming I would separate the fruit to be used separately and give small jars of the alcohol. If using the bulk of the alcohol in the gifts how do I preserve the remaining fruit?
I’m not sure if I understand you correctly: Are you planning to put just the fruit in one jar and then the alcohol in another? We always keep the fruit and rum together meaning that the smaller jar for the gift is filled with fruit and the rum all the way up to the rim.
You might have just some rum as a leftover: Add it to some sparkling wine at Christmas, it tastes wonderful!
I guess my concern is the fruit which is still floating. If I give it as a gift do I still need to weight the fruit down? Or is it OK at this point in time for some of the fruit to float to the top of the jar and be partially exposed to air between the alcohol and the lid?
Since it is all soaked in alcohol and sugar, I am not concerned about that. But if possible, fill the jars to the rim to limit air exposure.
I have just filled four big jars with first layer of fruits, sugar and covered with rum. I had bought Bacardi Gold Rum, at 40% alc./vol, and am just finding out here that unless 80% alcohol, the fruits will rot and the drink…not so good. What to do? Can I keep the 40% rum in but add the 80% rum from this point on? I need your help!
80% is a bit much, it must be at least 54%. So if you add enough of a higher percentage of rum, you might be able to even it out? I hope it will still work. If we hadn’t a pandemic I would say: top up with sparkling wine, invite your friends, and have a party … but that’s a solution for a different time.
I have very fond memories of having this as a child over vanilla ice cream. I cannot find my mother’s recipe any where so I tried reading up on the internet. My final product tasted good but was essentially fruit floating in rum. I remember it as being thick and the fruit had broken down and it was syrupy texture. Any thoughts?
when you make this, just cover the fruits with the rum and make sure the % of the rum is high enough. It must have at least 54% alcohol. And then it takes about 6 month until it is ready. If you want it more sirup like, maybe add more sugar?
Me too! I had a great jar of it decades ago.. like a good sourdough starter, it would literally have bubbles in it when it was brewing at it’s peak. .and tasted fantastic! To increase it, you just added fruit and sugar.. not more rum or other alcohol. .it made it’s own!. I have tried duplicating it repeatedly over the years after my starter died..to no avail. Perhaps I was using to mild of alcohol, but who ever gave me my start must have done something right, because it was fabulous. It was called “brandied fruit”, .and maybe that is how they started it, but I never kept it going with anything but sugar and more fruit. Furthermore, almost every recipe I have tried to get one going again even used canned fruit.. Tell me now.. how can they build fermentation when all of their enzymes have been killed when being canned??? I peeled and sliced into wedges three pineapples today and have a half gallon of it. I’m going to let it ferment onit’s own and see if it is what I remember. If it gets to brewing, I will then and only then add any canned fruit like peaches.. especially since there are no fresh ones now.. I do remember using canned ones of those, or canned fruit cocktail, or canned pineapples all those years ago, but I have never, ever, been able to duplicate what I had… and the flavor was divine! And yes, the best way was over vanilla ice cream, or ice cream over pound cake. And if you got sick of it, you could make jam out of it that tasted the same way. If I ever get it going again, I will freeze a starter.. just like you can do with sourdough or Amish Friendship cake.
Where I live I can only purchase rum that’s 80 proof or 40% alcohol. Will the sugar and fruit juice fermentation be enough to raise the alcohol level? Do I need to add yeast?
you will need at least 108 proof or 54% alcohol or it will rot. There is not fermentation going on in this recipe and also no yeast added to it. Try to order the 54% rum online.
I have been making this for years here in Canada with 40% rum with no problems. That is our strongest rum in Canada. If a Canadian is having problems with mold, I would also wander if they are keeping it in the fridge. I find that it has to be kept in the fridge. If they absolutely want stronger alcohol content, then they could add a shot of “ever clear “ which is 190 proof, each batch of “fruit sugar rum” they add.
I am also in Canada. Which rum did you buy. Thanks
We do have a stronger rum in Canada. It’s called Goslings and it’s 75%. I use 2/3 of the and 1/3 regular (40%) white rum to offset the very high potency of the Gosling.
My personal recommendation if you absolutely have to use 40% alcohol would be less fruit, and more sugar (Sugar acts as a preservative and fruit is mostly water which dilutes the alcohol). You can probably keep it out of the fridge for a week or two but then I’d refrigerate it after that.
I plan to make a Rumtopf with 6 lb of different fruit and about 2 l of Rum (Pott 54). My question is “How big a pot do I need?” My Rumtopf crockery pot is 4 litres. Will it hold all of the fruit and rum?
I can only guess and I would say it might not fit all in. Maybe put a pile of your fruits next to the jar and measure with your eye. Maybe you need to make two pots. Once the fruit is more mushy, it might work to add the second pot content to the first pot. You‘ll have to try it out I‘m afraid.
Can alcohol be substituted for non-alcohol?
This recipe can only work if you use rum with 54% or more.
I have a question. I am going to make a Schwarwaelder Kirschtorte, and had to buy a whole big bottle of Kirschwasser. Can I use the leftover Kirsch for a Rumtopf?
In order to make a Black Forest Cake I had to purchase a whole bottle of Kirschwasser. Can I use that to make a small Rumtopf?
well, it’s not against the law but I don’t think it will taste as good as with rum. But you could soak cherries in it. But why not using it in other cakes? You could also fill pralines with kirschwasser (very common in Germany). If you are making cherry jam this year, add some Kirschwasser (if you don’t share with kids) for some extra taste. Some drink it as a Shnaps after a meal – I don’t like that though.
definitely soak cherries in it! 2 pounds pitted cherries, 1.5 cups sugar, 6 cups fruity merlot (2 bottles), 1.5 cups kirschwasser, 1 cinnamon stick. Simmer cherries, 1/2 cup wine and sugar for 10 mins or until cherries are very soft, let cool, add everything including the remaining wine and kirschwasser to large jar. cover and put in cool, dark spot for one week and gently shake every other day. after 1 week, strain through cheesecloth (keep the cherries for topping ice cream or yogurt or make a pie) and store the liquid in a cool dark place tightly closed for a few weeks. drink within 3-4 months.
Is it possible to make this completely sugar free or does the sugar have a purpose ?
Do you use a particular rum for this like white rum?
I had to look it up in German discussions, so the information here is from other Germans and I don’t have any experience of my own about this topic. It seems that if you leave out the sugar, you need to use alcohol with a very high percentage. 80% was suggested – not sure if that’s healthy! The sugar is part of the conservation of the fruits, so if you leave it out and want to prevent the fruits from rotting, you need them to submerge entirely in high percent alcoholic drink. In Germany that seems to be “Stroh 80”.
I use just any rum that comes at a reasonable price tag.
Cheap dark rum is the way to go
Hi, I made a rumtopf last summer ( 2019). I have kept it in the fridge covered ever since. Due to some health issues I was in the hospital and have not even tried it. It is now May 2020. Is it still safe to eat ?
P.S. How long will it last ?
I am sorry you had health issues and hope you are fine now.
The rumtopf should still be good if all fruits were covered with rum. I too have some rumtopf left from 2019 and just recently used it with a scoop of vanilla icecream – it was delicious. I believe you can use your rumtopf for at least the rest of the year since the alcohol keeps it from getting bad. However, also use your own best judgement when opening and testing it.
All the best,
My parents would make this every year when I was a child. I remember when they finally allowed me to try it. I had died and gone to Valhalla. I intend to make this for next year. As I now live in the Southern Hemisphere, it is difficult to keep the jar in a cool enough place.
Gern geschehen! Brave of you, waiting until they allowed you to try it. I was definitely inpatient and fished for the rum soaked strawberries at age 14 or so. I too have to problem of the cool place to store it. Lucky for me we have space for a second fridge and there I put it until now. This years rum pot tastes fantastic!
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