Rumtopf

Rum is used for traditional German and Austrian Rumtopf. The French use bourbon, but you can choose the spirit that best suits your tastes. The recipe should be made at least a month before giving as a gift. Fruit should be in perfect condition without any blemishes and just ripe. Don't use over ripe fruits. It is okay to use fruit you have frozen earlier in the season.

Depending on the fruit you use they should be prepared according to their type. Apples, pears, peaches and nectarines should be peeled, cored, and sliced. Then drop them into a water and lemon juice bath to keep them from discoloring.

Citrus fruits should be peeled, segmented and skinned.

Remove stalks from currants and blueberries, and the top and bottom points from gooseberries. Hull strawberries and raspberries.

When washing the soft fruits gently spray them with a fine mist of water but don't soak them.

Choose decorative glass jars that have tight fitting lids. Wash and sterilize all the containers in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Let the jars cool before you begin adding the fruit. The different fruits should be layered in any combination that is pleasing to the eye. Begin by putting the first layer of fruit in the bottom of the container. Then sprinkle with granulated sugar. The amount of sugar you use for each layer depends on the sweetness of the fruit but a good rule of thumb is 6 ounces of sugar for each pound of fruit. Continue layering each variety of fruit and sprinkle with the sugar. When you have filled the jar to the top pour your choice of liqueur into the jar so the fruit is completely covered. Close the lid tightly and place in a cool dark location until you are ready to present the gift.

When presenting the Rumtopf, add a hand decorated tag to the jar with some serving suggestions such as the ones below.

A traditional Christmas morning celebration starts with a Rumtopf cocktail. Combine some Rumtopf with champagne and a few fruits and toast to family and friends.

Serve Rumtopf and cream in wine glasses.

Pour Rumtopf over ice cream or frozen yogurt and serve with toasted waffles.

Ladle some Rumtopf over lemon pound cake topped with fresh whipped cream.