Looking for a lost recipe --- fruit preserved in liquor
- Mar a
A couple of years ago one of the glossy cooking magazines (I think it was either Fine Cooking, Saveur or Food and Wine) published a recipe I wanted to try, and I lost the recipe before being able to make it.
It called for a glass jar in which to put fruit in layers, adding different types of fruit as the summer season progressed. Like starting with blueberries or cherries, then adding peaches, raspberries, etc.
Each time there was an addition, the fruit would be topped with alcohol (maybe brandy?) By December the jar would have a nice mix of fruit and syrup.
I'm ready to improvise but I have never made preserves and would not like to waste fruit. I don't remember if sugar had to be added, if things had to be refrigerated, or any other details.
Anyone knows of this preparation or anything similar --simple enough, no special equipment required?
My mother used to make something called Rumtopf that was like what you described. No, no special equipment or technique. She just used a large stoneware crock. I have found a recipe that sounds exactly like it. The fruit was good over ice cream, over ice cream and pound cake, over angel food....well, you get the idea. Still, the fruit is not aesthetically lovely, turns rather brown. She made something that we liked even better, though, called Cherry Bounce (don't ask me), with just fresh cherries, Bourbon and sugar. You'd start that NOW and let it moulder until December. It was good, but I must admit that our favorite part was straining the beautiful cherry-red liquid off and serving it in cordial glasses. I almost remember the night we drained off the whole batch--and dumped another half-gallon of Jim Beam over the cherries the next day. Think I might actually be able to scare up that recipe of hers if you are interested.
re: Deb Van D
Well, that cherry thing sounds very interesting. Would you mind posting the recipe? Now after reading all the posts I think maybe I would start with just one kind of fruit, instead of the mix. After that I'll dig into the rumpot. Sorry, I am not a very brave chowhound!
Thanks all for the great replies.
Oh man, I am the expert on this ... for hints on what NOT to do. I have made this the past three years. Each October I have the annual tossing of the bad fruit down the garbage disposal.
I'm using fruit from one of SF's most upscale farmer's markets, so this annual recipe cost me at least $100 ever year. This year I finally got discouraged and didn't attempt it.
But WAIT !!! EUREKA !!! thanks to your question I think I found the problem ... the fruit MUST BE COOKED before it goes into the crockpot.
This recipe is also called Tutti Frutti and a link to an online recipe is below.
Here's what I have learned
- You MUST use a crockpot. The fruit must be totally covered with alcohol. If any of it floats above the alcohol, it ferments in a bad way, ruining the batch.
- You MUST stir it every day. Otherwise the sugar settles to the bottom and the fruit is more likely to ferment. NO YOU CAN NOT SKIP THE DAILY STIRRING. If you go on vacation, hire a fruit stirrer to come in once a day. Or you can entrust it to neighbor you really, really trust.
- Think about keeping it in a cool place. This is an old time recipe. In my grand mother's day, everyone had cellars that were cool during the summer months. Crocks of fruit like this were kept down there. Leaving it on a kitchen counter tends to let the fruit ferment in a bad way. Are you getting the drift here? It took me three years. I'd keep it in the fridge unless you have a cellar or your house is kept at say 60 degrees all summer. However, that means it is a real pain to stir it every day. NO ... refrigeration does NOT STOP the bad fermenting.
- Make sure there is not a speck of bruise on any of the fruit, else, guess what happens.
- This is advice that I would have given before reading the recipe that says to cook the fruit. Berries are not a good choice. The first year I used strawberries. They did something really ugly in that jar. They had these white spots. The next year, no strawberries. However raspberries and blackberries tend to lose all the juice leaving you dried out little seed balls. A surprise for anyone with loose fillings. Blueberries tend to shrivel into hard little balls as well. However, maybe cooking the berries prevents this.
This sounded so good to me which was why I tried so many times. The thought of eating that lucious summer fruit all winter ... talk about visious of sugarplums dancing in my head. I make the best cherries in various alcohols, so I was really ticked that this recipe didn't work.
The cookbook that had the recipe said NOTHING about cooking the fruit before putting it in the crock. Because I am lazy, rather than re-stating the recipe, I decided to look for it on line. That's where I found the recipe below and the instructions about cooking.
The recipe says rum, but I've seen other recipes using Brandy.
re: Stanley Stephan
Cooked? Not the way my wife ever does it. In fact most of the fruits she uses would never hold shape if cooked. Here's her recipe for rumpot (you could use brandy instead but then it wouldn't be rumpot).
She starts at the beginning of the strawberry season with about a quart of strawberries, hulled, washed and dried. You're definitely right about not using bruised fruit. Mix gently with two cups of sugar and add enough rum to cover. Use a plate to weight the fruit down and keep it below the surface of the rum. As the season progresses add other fruits -- berries, cherries, apricots, plums. Pit and stone, of course. Don't use any citrus or fruits that won't hold up (apples for example). Everytime she adds fruit she adds about a cup of sugar and more rum to keep things covered. Cover it, store in a cool dark place and wait.
Oh, she's done this in stoneware crocks, food-grade plastic buckets, and glass jars. It's always worked.
Around November she puts it in clean canning jars and gives it as gifts.
David "Zeb" Cook
You are probably thinking of Rumtopf, made with rum, sugar and fruit. Do a google search on "rumtopf" and you will get many hits. Some of them will be in German, but there are English recipes as well.