Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rumtopf! It's National Brandied Fruit Day, time for some Tutti-Fruitti

What if you could capture the essence of each changing season all in one small compartment?

Tutti Fruiti:
Take one cup of brandy, one of sugar and one fruit to begin. Whatever fruit you choose, lay it in jar, first, then sugar, and lastly brandy; continue to add different fruits as they appear in season, one cup of each. You do not need any more brandy; as the juice will be extracted from the fruit and increase the amount. Commence with strawberries, and all kinds of fruit as they ripen. It is not to be cooked. Mrs. H. J. Wookford harvested from The Parish Cook Book Tried and Proved Recipes p. 176. (1907; 2ed. published by The Ladies Guild of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, East Randolph, New York)

In the days of cherries; or the "good old days," it would not be unusual to spy an old stoneware jar filled with a mixture of fruit left to distill on the window sill. In a German household, the brandied fruit cup would fondly be known as Rumtopf, which literally means rum pot. While a German "rumtopf" recipe may use rum, there are other various mixtures used depending on availability. The French use Bourbon and here in the states, we go for the Brandy. You, however, can choose whatever spirit you desire to concoct your very own alcoholic fruit salad:)


Why we celebrate National Brandied Fruit Day in October and not in May or June is beyond the scope of this still room I have for a brain. The fact that I have chosen to celebrate National Brandied Fruit Day confirms my need to explore the churned spirit.

It seems rather odd to me that an alcoholic liquor distilled from wine or fermented fruit juice such as Brandy would be used to magically add zing to the preservation of fruit. However, when I discovered the name brandy originated from the old Dutch word "brandewijn" meaning distilled, burnt or fire treated wine, I realized the virtues of brandied fruit. The distinct quality of preparing a salmagundi of "pickled fruit" lies merely upon your ability to catch the seasonal changes at their peaks. You can mix and match any fruit of your choosing to replenish "the starter" and to keep the prized mixture alive. Let me back track a moment. There are those who have spirited discussions as to what fruits are acceptable and those that are not. Apples seem to be a no no, yet the princess of fruits, the pineapple, is a definite yes! (as long as it is canned pineapple)Strawberries, most likely, will be the first layer of your soon to be relished mixed dish, as they are the generous greeters of the fruit bearing season. Perhaps one of the reasons we celebrated Strawberry Thanksgiving in June. Cherries but not too many, blackberries, boysenberries, gooseberries, apricots, pears, plums, peaches nectarines, currants, and blueberries, all carefully prepared of course, are just some of the ingredients you can add to your potpourri filled with grass root flavor.

For those of you who may be hesitant, you have a few months to muddle over it. The worst that can happen is you won't like it. Not to worry, we'll start small. I haven't chosen a day yet but, I'm seriously thinking of claiming a day in May or June as the day to begin next year's tutti-fruitti season. You know, something like Tutti-Frutti Rumpoft Day!!! Remember, you heard it here first!!!

A maceration of fruits and brandy especially popular in the South, where ladies would add one cup of each fruit of the season to one pint brandy along with an amount of sugar equal to a quart of fruit. The mixture would be stirred each morning and kept for the season.

Tutti -fruitti is also an ice cream flavored with various fruits. The term is from the Italian, meaning "all fruits" and in America dates back from the 1870s. There was also a gum-ball candy called by this name in New York City in the 1880s. Dictionary of American Food and Drink by John F. Mariani

As for utensils, well a German Rumtopf is usually started in a special vessel just for the intended purpose of distilling the fruit. I have seen some beautifully decorated ones in my travels. Size is up to you. It depends on how much you plan on making and how much choice fruit you are willing to mingle. Metal is out of the question. I'm sure it would react with the content of alcohol. I never use metal when I handle or enjoy either store bought or home made yogurt for the same reason. (I eat yogurt with a plastic spoon) Although, I have often been served Ayran in a metal vessel while dining at my favorite Turkish restaurant. Go figure. I still suggest no metal be used in the preparation of tutti-frutti or rumtopf for that matter. I plan on using one of my crock pots next spring but I'm sure you could use a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Tony's Okra Heaven, a blog I recently discovered, has an outstanding sample of a traditional Rumtopf Pot. The pot is absolutely stunning. The pot also has a recipe for Rumtopf engraved in German. Tony's post Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s Rumtopf… is his rather humorous approach to his method of bringing the delectable hodgepodge of fruit to zest. He was most generous when I asked him if I could "borrow" his image to share with you today. Thanks Tony!!! (be sure to stop by aned feast your eyes on that pot!)

Serving Suggestions

Remember that list of Friendship Day recipes in jars post from August? Well, here's another idea. A quick version of Tutti-Fruitti can be churned up in just 3 weeks using canned fruit!!! Not only will you be able to sample the imparted Brandy, for future reference, you can use the starter to bake Friendship Cakes. I found an excellent recipe for Brandied Fruit Starter prepared with canned fruit at the Big Oven. If you should decide to give the starter alone as a gift, be sure to enclose serving suggestions on a decorative gift tag and perhaps, a recipe for Friendship Cake. There's also another recipe @ Recipeland which uses canned fruit and yeast. It requires just 30 days to mature.

Hocus Pocus! magically, we all started our Tutti-Fruitti last strawberry moon and we are on the verge of sheer delight. Where do we begin? National Fruitcake Day is celebrated in December 27th. That's the day families get together to share memories of fruitcake and to begin the task of preparing next year's gifts. You know a sort of a fruitcake eating and baking session:) Add some Brandied Fruit to your favorite recipe! Brandied syrup adds a fruity bouquet to waffles, bread pudding, pound cake and makes a delightful topping on ice cream a la mode. Mixed with yogurt, rumtopf makes a grand dessert empanada filling. Quite frankly, the enjoyments are endless. Here's a recipe for Ole Koeks from The National Cookbook which was published in 1932 by Sheila Hibben. Notice how the recipe for the "little oil balls" of Olie Bollen are infused with Brandy.

Ole Koeks
1 pint milk
1/2 lb. butter
3/4 lb. sugar
4 eggs
1 yeast cake
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup brandy or flavoring substitute
1 cup citron (chopped)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (grated)
1/2 tsp. salt
Bring the milk to a boil and melt the butter in it. When cooled to blood heat, add yeast cake dissolved in a little tepid water. Then add sugar, salt, well-beaten eggs, and enough flour to make a workable dough. Set to rise in a warm place overnight. Pour the brandy over seeded raisins and citron, mix in the nutmeg, and let stand overnight. In the morning roll out the dough on a floured board; cut off pieces of about 3 inches square, put a little of the raisins and citron inside; pat into balls and let rise again on the board. Drop carefully into very hot deep fat and fry until a rich golden brown. Drain on warmed brown paper and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

I saved the best for last. You may have noticed the omission of citrus fruits as one of the suggested fruits for your tutti-frutti. There are as many variations of bottled fruit as there are individuals. There are those who do not agree with the addition of citrus fruits. As I gestured to before, some have very strict preferences as to which fruits should or should not be included in their preparation. One recipe I happened upon only included strawberries while another preferred cherries only; hmmm...Kirsch? I plan on adding lemons and limes to mine and am contemplating the thought of peeled and seeded oranges. We'll see. I like the notion of being able to adapt the fruit to the mixture as well as using the rinds to make an eco-friendly enzyme cleaner made from lemon, lime and orange peels. What! you weren't aware there's a recipe for that. Well, check out Happy Home-maker's Virtual Home for a most interesting recipe. Choesf is working on a post about the health benefits of flavored vinegars which I am eagerly anticipating.

Not to get off the subject because, the subject is always food, but October is also National Applejack Month. There's a heavenly recipe for Spicy Calvados Applesauce over @ A Crafty Lass which you must take a gander at. Tomorrow is also Apple Day in the UK. According to wiki, the first Apple Day was celebrated in England on October 21st, 1990 in London. Since I didn't want to miss the opportunity to celebrate with my visitors from "across the pond" and since I wanted to remind you all that October is still National Pizza Month, and we do have a Pizza event in progress, I thought I would include a recipe for Lots O' Apple Pizza. Oh alright, I scanned it from a book titled Mott's; A Better Way to Bake but when I do bake, which as you know is not often, I try use applesauce as one of the ingredients. I'll attempt to describe why in a future post:) Enjoy!

Upcoming Food Days

21-National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day Janet makes hers with chocolate cookie crust!
21-Caramel Apple Day (It's also National Caramel Month:) You must check out Jane's recipe for Apple Cinnamon Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce; YUM!
22-National Nut Day
23-National Boston Cream Pie Day
23-National Canning Day (canned food day is always celebrated on October 23, the birthday of Nicolas Appert the declared "Father of Canning")

1. Rumtopf (rum pot) Recipe
2. Rumtopf (Traditional German Fruit Preserve & Beverage) @ recipezaar
3. Making a Rumtopf in a Piece of German History
4. Friendship Cake, Armenian-Italian style (Excellent reminiscent article with recipe)
5. Friendship Brandied Fruit (@recipe source)
6. Jeanne's Tutti-Fruitti
7. Heirloom Recipe: Tutti-Frutti
8. Tutti-Frutti Barbancourt (Haitian Recipe with a spicy twist)
9. Preserving Summer with Tutti-Frutti & Rumtopf
10. Friendship Day (previous post includes recipes in jars for gift giving)
11. Strawberry Thanksgiving (previous post)
12. Nicolas Appert (previous post)


  1. I got a big ole jar of citron, dried fruits, etc soaking in Rum in my counter for Fruitcake. Certaind Soemones mom makes a nice Rumtoph.

  2. I think there's a recipe like that in the 16th century cookbook I'm reading. It would have been natural to do that prior to the invention of motor-assisted refrigeration and freezing and really good canning jars.

  3. Here in Germany Rumtopf is a little bit oldfashioned by now. The typical pot looks like that on the website of your friend, sometimes more round in shape. As far as I know the method of preserving fruits in rum or arrak is not too old, it developed in the 18th century. The name Rumtopf was first mentioned in a cookbook from 1860.

  4. Very interesting to learn about tutti fruitti. So informative! :)

  5. My Mom made this when I was a child. I remember a crock of fruit sitting on the kitchen counter. I am sure she put canned peaches in it also pineapple but I don't remember what else.

  6. I'm very willing to give this a try. How could it not be good?

  7. I'm thinking this is a perfect time of year to make tutti fruitti- might be ready for the holidays! Going to try it with my own choices of fruits- right along with cranberries macerating in my bottle of vodka!
    Found your list of special "days" fascinating. Never knew any of this.

  8. Huh. I never imagined there was so much fascinating history behind a bubblegum flavor. :)

  9. I've never really heard of tutti-frutti. Once again, a great education! I'm not sure I'll like it, though, because I'm not a fan of macerated fruits.

  10. Rumtopf sounds intriguing, although I'm not that big on spirits. Not that I have any objection to drinking, just that if I'm consuming non-nutritious calories, give me something sweet, y'know? Anyway, Rumtopf seems like it ought to be a good basis for fruitcake, don't you think? There you go, an idea for next year...

    Have a lovely weekend!

  11. Brandied fruit is great for a whole lot of stuff. Glad they have their own special day!

  12. Hi Courtney...why does it not surprise me that you have "a big ole" jar of fruit soaking? I know what you'll be doing for National Fruitcake Day!!! Perhaps you can get CS's mom to share...

    Hi Mae, Please let us know if you come across it in your reading travels. It would be fascinating to see the difference or similarity.

    Hi Petra Thank you so much for adding a bit more flavor to this post. It appears, Rumtopf may once again be on the "rise" in one shape or other.

    Hey Natashya Maybe I should have called this blog, There's a day for that!!!

    Hi Selba, do you have a version of tutti fruitti in Indonesia?

  13. Me either Adele, sure does give us much to "chew" on this tutti fruitti concept now doesn't it?

    Hi Sophia, I was skeptical at first too but when I saw all the fabulous things that could be done with it, I just had to reconsider. Plus, it sure sounds like a fun way to preserve summer's bounty!!!

    Oh Marjie, wouldn't it be wonderful to set up a batch of Rumtopf next spring and enjoy the fruits of our labor with a tutti-fruitti fruitcake. he he, say that 3x. If you whip up your own batch, it can be as sweet as your big heart desires:)

    Hi veron, I can just imagine what you would do with tutti-fruitti:) Please let us know when you do...thanks for stopping:)

  14. I never thought of adding lemon and lime to add in to the mix. Good thinking!
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  15. It works GREAT, Nikki. Thanks for stopping in...

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