The Finale: Plumtopf Rumtopf

Well we took long enough before our last addition in our mini rumtopf series. It wasn’t our intention to make this the only thing on Crustcrumbs over the past four months but here we are. We’ve been keeping extraordinarily busy over the summer and fall with barely a chance to catch our breath but thankfully, when these blue plums showed up at the market, I was able to focus my bleary-eyed attention over to them so we could put this rumtopf to rest.

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These late-summer plums found under the label of blue plums, prune plums and Italian plums, not only make a satisfying deep purple preserve after their skins have bled into their flesh and preserving liquid but they also make for the ideal fruit for the lazy preserver—such as myself—because their pits practically fall out after slicing them open.

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Our rumtopf is now full or our favourite summer fruits, drowning in overproof rum, and suspended in enough sugar to keep it preserved for the next 50 years—not that we’ll be keeping it around that long. Come Christmastime, when we decide to crack it open (and rest assured there will be photographic evidence) the fruit and liquor will make it into our trifle bowls and cocktail coupes. The important thing to remember will be that the mix of alcohol and sugar is sky high making whatever we use it in a deceptively evil dish that’s able to knockout anyone who dares to overindulge.

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Rumtopf Raspberries

Just a very quick note to add some raspberries into the rumtopf! The season is…well…over but add them in anyway, like we did. Their bright red colour is going to lend a rich deep red to our already crimson jar. Even in this late summer, visions of Christmas cocktails are starting to pop into our heads—we may have to crack this rumtopf open when we start planning to gather around the holiday punch bowl.

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We couldn’t resist taking a few pictures of these glowing berries on display at the farmer’s market.

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Witness Jen’s first styled shot for Crustcrumbs, as I worked on weighing out the sugar for the rumtopf.

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We’ll be back soon (sooner than the last time we did this) with one final addition into the rumtopf before we dress up for Halloween!

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Sour Cherries in the Rumtopf

It’s rumtopf time again and we’re so happy we have the privilege to add sour cherries to the jar. Bing cherries are nice and all—totally worthy of giving yourself cherry-belly over—but these tiny sour cherries are tart and taste like the “real” cherry flavour that was surely the muse for the likes of Lik-M-Aid and Twizzlers.
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Sour cherries preserved in rum is the simplest way to have a taste of their elusive flavour in the winter months but you shouldn’t stop there. These little orbs would also make darling Maraschino cherries, something I may have to try out before their cruelly short season is up. They could make amazing candied cherries too, something David Lebovitz has a recipe for in his book, Ready for Dessert. The syrup from those candied cherries is also pretty wonderful when paired with some bourbon. And while I’m recipe dropping over here, Nigella’s “Cloudy Lemonade for a Sunny Day” found in Nigella Express, with it’s whole puréed lemons, adds bitter lemon oils essential in lifting a bourbon-based lemonade, and can be over-the-top beach-ready if sweetened with that aforementioned sour cherry syrup.

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Now add those sour cherries to your rumtopf and let’s have a party!

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What’s in your Rumtopf?

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In our new mini-summer-series, we’re asking “What’s in your Rumtopf?”. A rumtopf, for those not in the know, is a straight forward summer-fruit preserve consisting of fruit, sugar and overproof rum. It’s an old tradition, with origins in Germany and naturally, variations abound. There are versions that use brown sugar and dark rum for added notes of treacle and caramel, where some opt for gin or brandy in place of rum to suit personal spirit preference. Almost any combination of fruit will work and indeed no combination at all—no one is going to balk at a rumtopf made up solely of sour cherries and brandy though maybe just don’t call it a rumtopf.

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Our rumtopf, apart from not using a proper rumtopf crock, will be retaining its rumtopf purity with a mixture of fruit as it comes into season, white granulated sugar, and overproof white rum. The proportion to keep in mind is that you’ll be adding half the weight of whatever fruit you add with sugar (500g of strawberries = 250g sugar). Top each addition with just enough spirit to cover. As another fruit comes along, add it in and repeat with sugar and rum. Make sure to wash and sterilize your rumtopf vessel before beginning.

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By the end of it, what you’re left with is some boozy preserved fruit in a homemade cordial. Preserving in alcohol may be the easiest method but it’s also one of the slowest, meaning this rumtopf won’t be ready until Christmastime, at which point the fruit can be eaten alongside cake or on top of ice cream and the cordial mixed into a cocktail or sipped straight up.

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So, what’s in our rumtopf this week?
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70s Week: Terrific Women Make Mai-Tais

Rarely, if ever do we want to get personal on this blog. Jen and I prefer to keep it about the food and photography when we can but as we stumbled across an old photo set, stashed away in one of Jen’s well-loved Helen Reddy albums, we realized it was coming up on the 40th anniversary of when we met. It was May 5th, 1974 when our paths first crossed on set of the cable access show Terrific Women, starring local celebrities Linda Davis and Joy Johanson.

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It feels like it was just yesterday so to commemorate this major Crustcrumbs milestone, we’ve decided to make May 5th-9th, 70s Week! All week long we’ll be going through more of Jen’s vinyl collection to unearth the rest of our Terrific Women archives, sharing a few favourite recipes, stories, behind-the-scenes photos, and videos from those early days on set.

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As I remember it, I was just finishing my culinary training at George Brown and Jen had begun taking on more local gigs, joining the team as a unit stills photographer, after wrapping another successful season of The Beachcombers. Terrific Women was not a cooking show. Linda was always the first to admit she didn’t eat, but inevitably in their attempt to put together a show that would instruct women how to lead successful, independent lives, Joy’s enthusiasm for home economics and Linda’s overwhelming urges to have a good time, persuaded them to shoot multiple episodes on entertaining. In fact, their innovations on the subject were leaps and bounds ahead of their time, which is something you’ll see in the footage we’ve pulled together this week.

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It’s amazing with the sheer volume of lousy cocktails and excessive drinking that happened on set that we can still stomach the sight of another mixed drink—nowadays it’s probably better to just give us a cigarette and a glass of Mateus. Back then of course, it was all maraschino cherries and disco naps. A typical shoot always started out with a drink, nothing as complicated as the Mai-Tai they made in the episode below, usually just a couple fingers of Kahlúa in our morning coffee, a Brown Cow to deliver a healthy does of calcium, or a Bloody Mary to get some roughage into us.

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Every recipe that appeared on the Terrific Women show was concocted by Linda and Joy exclusively with a little thievery from local discos and their favourite Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks. Not surprisingly, it was Joy’s misadventure that led her to con this Mai-Tai recipe from a bartender when we were all out celebrating the end of another productive day, early into the Tuesday morning hours. Joy was somehow able to ruse the bartender into temporarily believing the baby bump she had been sporting for the last eight and a half months had something to do with him. He felt bad enough that he wrote this drink recipe across her stomach as a parting gift for the groovy evening they shared together.

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On the show it was sort of an inside joke to put a shot glass on the table for them to use because it was such a ridiculous idea that either of them would take the time to measure-out their booze. This is the actual recipe they made on the show with its measured proportions, though to stay in the spirit of the show, we’ll be making our drinks tonight by free-pouring the alcohol just like Linda and Joy used to do in 1974.


Makes 1 cocktail

Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 oz apricot brandy
1/2 oz blue curaçao
2 oz dark rum

To serve:

1 pineapple, hollowed-out and frozen
Sliced pineapple, to garnish
Sliced oranges, to garnish
Maraschino cherries, to garnish
Ice cubes

Combine the lime juice, apricot brandy, blue curaçao, and dark rum in the hollowed-out shell of a frozen pineapple and stir to combine. Add ice to fill the shell and garnish with skewers of pineapple, orange, and maraschino cherries.

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