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Rumtopf is a traditional German rum-soaked fruit dessert consisting of fruit, sugar, and strong rum. The word can be translated as rum pot, and it is served during celebrations or special occasions. The dessert is basically a variety of different types of fruit preserved in high-strength rum and sugar for a couple of months. The fruit slowly soaks up the rum and sugar and becomes totally saturated with the liquid. While it's quite easy to make, it needs to be allowed to mature for a few months to acquire its specific taste.
The tradition of creating rumtopf began centuries ago as a technique to store fruits for long periods of time. The fresh fruits of that time, especially the first fresh fruits that were harvested, were used to create this dessert. Mostly, these were strawberries, but now, with the availability of fruits throughout the year, rumtopf can be made at any time. Traditionally, a big stoneware pot was placed in a dark and cool environment during springtime. Fresh fruits are layered in the pot along with sugar and very strong rum.
Care is taken to make sure that the fruits are totally submerged in the alcohol — the high concentration of alcohol and sugar is responsible for keeping the fruit from spoiling. The fruits are left in the rum and sugar for a couple of months and checked from time to time. They typically change color during this period. More fruits are also added to the rumtopf as they come into season.
It's necessary to be patient to enjoy this delicious dessert because the fruits need time to soak up the rum and sugar. When done, after about two to three months, the liquid acquires a fruity taste and can be drunk as such. Alternatively, the fruits along with the syrup can be served with waffles and ice cream or cheesecake or puddings.
It may be served in an elegant glass, artfully topped with whipped cream. The liquor also works well as an after-dinner cordial, or it can be combined with a little champagne and served as an alluring cocktail. The fruit in the rumtopf may also be served warm on the top of pancakes or with flan.
Some like to consume rumtopf with any dish having game meat. Some of the fruits used to make rumptopf include cherries, apricots, and pineapples. Peaches, pears, and plums also make good additions. Strawberries are one of the most traditional fruits used to make this dessert. Grapes, raspberries, and nectarines can also be added.
Some fruits don't make good additions. Fruits to avoid are apples as they acquire an odd texture, rhubarb, which sours it, and bananas, which make it mushy. Blackberries and blueberries are to be avoided too as they may discolor all the other fruits and make the entire mixture bitter. Cantaloupes and watermelon are also poor additions because they make the liquor too watery.