All you need for Rumtopf is fresh fruit, sugar and rum (or brandy). It is traditional to begin with the first fruit of the season. This typically includes strawberries, but fresh fruit is often available all year round. Start with your favorite fresh fruit, as long as it is ripe (not over-ripe). More on fermenting fruits here

Ideal fruits are:
Pineapple (remove rind & core and cut in large cubes)
Cherries (any variety, pitted)
Apricots (halves, pitted)
Nectarines (halves, pitted)
Peaches (remove pits and cut in halves, quarters, or slices)
Pears (cored, peeled & sliced)
Plums (remove seed and half or quarter)
Grapes (sweet seedless red or green grapes are ideal)
Strawberries (don't wash, just remove stem & leaves). Strawberries will lose their red color.
Raspberries (don't wash). Raspberries will lose some of their red color.
Red currants (removed from stem)

Other less ideal fruits, may be added if you wish:
Blackberries or Blueberries (can be bitter and can discolor the other fruits)
Watermelon and Cantaloupe chunks (can make the mixture a bit watery)
Rhubarb (can make mixture sour)
Bananas (too mushy)
Citrus (too acidic)

Wash and dry the inside of the Rumtopf.
Wash and dry the first chosen fruit. (Don't wash Strawberries and Raspberries.)
Remove any stems, seed and pits.
In a separate bowl cover the fruit with an equal weight of granulated sugar and allow to sit for one hour.
(example: 3 pounds of fruit and 3 pounds of sugar)
Place the fruit, sugar and any juices left in the bowl into the Rumtopf.
Pour in just enough rum or brandy to cover the fruit.
Weigh the fruit down with a clean saucer or plate
Cover the opening of the Rumtopf with plastic (to avoid evaporation) and place the lid firmly on top.
Store in a cool place away from heat and sunlight.

Adding additional layers of fruit:
For each additional layer of fruit follow the instructions above, but use only half as much sugar.
(Example: 3 pounds of fruit and 1 1/2 pounds of sugar.)
After the fruit and sugar has rested for one hour, gently add this mixture onto the earlier layer.
Do not mix the fruits.
Add more rum or brandy to cover the new layer.
Cover with fresh Saran or plastic wrap and the lid.

Throughout the summer, repeat the process for each new fruit until your Rumtopf is full.

Then allow the entire mixture to sit for another 4 to 6 weeks. It is best at 2-3 months.

Serve the Rumtopf fruits with its syrup (hot or cold) over ice-cream, cake, flan, puddings, or cheese cake, topped with whipped cream or crème frâiche; as a side dish with any game meat; or serve the strained liquid as a liquor or after-dinner cordial, or add two tablespoons of the strained liquid to Champagne.

Basic Rum-Pot Fruit Recipe (Rumtopf)

From: (Stephanie da Silva)
From Time-Life's The Good Cook Series

3 cups (3/4 liter) strawberries, hulled
about 2 cups each (about 1/2 liter each) prepared gooseberries, cherries,
red currants, black currants, raspberries, apricots, plums and pears
(pick over, remove any damaged parts and pit or core fruits)
about 10 cups (about 2 1/2 liters) sugar
about 2 quarts (about 2 liters) rum

Sprinkle the strawberries with 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) sugar. Cover, and let stand for 30 minutes. Place the sugared strawberries in the rum pot (as the rum pot, you can use a 1 to 2 gallon stoneware crock with a lid) and pour in enough rum to cover the fruit by about two finger-widths. Cover the pot with plastic wrap and put on the lid. Place in a cool room, and stir the fruit gently every two or three days.

Starting with the gooseberries, or as the fruits ripen, add the remaining fruits in layers; mix 1 cup (1/4 liter) of fruit with 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the sugar before adding it to the pot, and each time add enough rum to cover fruit by two finger-widths.

After the first two weeks, you will only need to shake or stir the pot every two weeks. But you must always make sure that the top layer of fruit is covered by two finger-widths of rum. Traditionally, the rum pot is begun in early summer. At the end of October or the begining of November, add enother cup of rum to the pot. By the beginning of December, the fruit will be ready to eat.

Brandied Fruit Melange

From: (Stephanie da Silva)

about 10 quarts (about 10 liters) prepared fresh fruits: hulled
strawberries; pitted cherries; whole raspberries; peeled, pitted
and sliced apricots and peaches; whole blueberries; pitted plums;
and peeled, cored and sliced pears
about 10 quarts (about 10 liters) sugar
about 2 1/2 quarts (about 2 1/2 liters) brandy

Brandy base
2 cups (1/2 liter) brandy
1 1/2 quarts (1 1/2 liters) firm, ripe strawberries, hulled
6 cups (1 1/2 liters) sugar
2 cups (1/2 liter) kirsch
2 cups (1/2 liter) sherry
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon (15 ml) whole cloves
1 tablespoon (15 ml) whole allspice
1 tablespoon (15 ml) grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon (15 ml) grated orange peel

For the brandy base, crush the strawberries and simmer them in their own juice until they are tender, about five minutes. Let the berries drip in a jelly bag; discard the pulp. Bring the strawberry juice to a boil, add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Cool the syrup. Put the brandy, kirsch, sherry, spices and grated lemon and orange peels into a 4 gallon (16 liter) crock. Add the strawberry syrup to the other ingredients in the crock. Let the mixture stand for at least one week.

As fruits are available, add equal quantities of fresh fruits and sugar, stirring after each addition. Never add more than 2 quarts (2 liters) of sugared fruit at one time. Two or three kinds of fruit may be added at the same time. For each 2 quarts of sugared fruit, add 2 cups (1/2 liter) of brandy. More spices also may be added. Continue this process until the crock is filled. Put the cover on the crock and tie a cloth over it. Let it stand without disturbing it for two or three months.

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