Keep a crock of rumpot on hand

Seattle TimesDecember 31, 2013 

FOOD HDY-RUMPOT SE

Topped with ice cream and a sprig of mint, rumpot is ready for any party.

GENEVIEVE ALVAREZ — MCT

— When I was young, foolish and living on an island known for its distillation of sugar cane, I met up with a powerful fellow named Ronrico.

In the aftermath of that tropical storm, my head was pa-rum-pa-pum-pum-ing and I swore, like many a foolish imbiber before me, I’d never touch a bottle of Ronrico – or any other type of rum – again.

Promises, promises. I’ve since developed a taste for the stuff, thanks to a recipe for rumpot.

What’s great about this fruity treasure is you can make a big batch of the rum-stoked fruit, keep it in the fridge and never lack for a sweet fix.

There’s rumpot for mixing with yogurt or spooning over pancakes at breakfast. Rumpot as accompaniment to pork roast, or served after dinner with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

But until I sat down to share my rumpot recipe, I had no idea “rumtopf” was a Christmas tradition in Germany (ditto for Denmark).

Rumtopf (translation: rumpot) takes its name from the stoneware crock used to preserve summer’s sweet bounty: a custom that calls for macerating a variety of fruits, layered – as they come into season – with rum and sugar. It also requires the patience to wait while the fruit marinates through the fall months stored in a cool, dark place, culminating with the popping of the “topf” for a Yuletide treat.

My rumpot recipe hails from Italy.

I spotted this boozy bonanza eons ago in “Italy: A Culinary Journey,” a coffee-table cookbook whose photos made me say, “Oooh! Let’s go to Italy!” At which point, my husband turned to me and said, “Absolutely. Meanwhile, why don’t you make that?” as he nodded at a photograph of a sun-dappled patio-table set with glass containers of frutta secca al rum – Ciao, rumpot!

The Italian-accented recipe calls for dried fruits rather than fresh and may be eaten shortly after it’s prepared in a process that involves the addition of fresh oranges, cloves and a cinnamon stick, a bit of cookery and a hefty measure of dark rum.

Feel free to alter the dried-fruit choices to suit your taste, and choose your poison. Mine (sorry, Ron) is Myers’s Original Dark Rum.

Nancy Leson is The Seattle Times’ food writer. Reach her at nleson@seattletimes.com.

Frutta Secca al Rum (Rumpot)

From “Italy: A Culinary Journey”

Juice and rind of 4 oranges

1 1/4 cups sugar

10 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

4 cups water

1/2 cups (10 ounces) dried apricots

1/2 cups (10 ounces) dried pears

1/2 cups (10 ounces) dried peaches

2  1/2 cups (10 ounces) dried apple rings

1  1/2 cups (10 ounces) prunes

2 cups (10 ounces) golden raisins

2  1/2 cups dark rum

PUT fresh orange juice, the (squeezed out) rinds, sugar, cloves and cinnamon with water in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil until it reduces slightly. Discard rind and spices, and filter liquid through cheesecloth or a fine sieve. Add apricots, pears, peaches, apple rings, prunes and golden raisins and mix together.

BRING to a boil, cook for 8-10 minutes and set aside to cool. When mixture is completely cooled, pour in rum, mix well and refrigerate in a large, airtight 1-gallon jar. If you store the rumpot for a couple months, the flavor will fully develop.

Yield: 1 gallon

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