No lids No Dryer, No Freezer

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    OK Then I’m back after the major change in the APN Forum I sat out for a time as I was unsure how to navigate it, not sure that I “liked” it and found a lot of what seemed to be posted in my opinion “sub-optimal”. Note that the word opinion is, as I have pointed out before one fraught with peril. I am not omnipotent, nor free from bias. I also am subject to many other things like indigestion or sore feet. I often question my own views and attempt to avoid any emotional clinging to them. I’d suggest that anyone who reads my opinions to adopt a similar cynicism.
    The question I’ve been pondering is food preservation wayyyyy off grid. That would be without the manufatured lids and jars, the dehydrators, freezers and all of the pre-19th century methods of preservation. I’ll talk about only one of them here.
    That one is alcohol, booze, liquor, hooch, shine or any of the creative names given that old human standby. It’s not just to make us happy or in some cases sensless but has had a role in preservation of food and flavor for thousands of years.
    Fruit is a prime example. Stone fruits and berries, grapes and cherries are delicate and difficult to preserve even with modern equipment. One method that was used is called a “Rumtopf”. Literally translated that’s a “Rum Pot”. The idea is to layer fruit with a sweetener and a covering of Rum as each fruit comes into season. A non-reactive jar with a lid, sugar or honey and a quantity of spirits are all that is required.
    The technique is to remove the stones from the fruits that have them after a through washing. The larger ones then are sliced. You can leave things like strawberries whole. I avoid bluberries as they tend to color everything a Science Fiction Alien Blue that is not very appealing. If you don’t mind this go right ahead. I also avoid apples and pears as they get too mushy for our tastes. As you place each layer of fruit add one quater the weight of your sweetner. Next you cover with the rum or spirit of availability and let it sit covered until the next batch of fruit comes in. It’s a good idea to keep the lid loose and use a bit of clean cheese cloth with it to keep out the pests. It’s also best to keep the pot in a cool dark place. We use our cellar as it stays cold even in the warmest of summers. The fruit also needs to be submerged in with the spirit. A clean plate works well to hold things down. Alternately you can stir the mass up daily. Just make sure your spoon is clean. That’s it. All you need to do once your pot is full or you run out of fruit to add is to let it sit for three or four months.
    The fruit can be eaten as is or served over cake or a short bread. It can also be stirred into other dishes and not only deserts. Stirred into cooked grains with bits of meat and vegetables makes for an interesting pilaf. The liquid can be either drunk (no pun intended here) or used as the base of other cooking. You are limited only by two things. Those are your own imagination and your tolerance for alcohol.
    Hope those who try this enjoy it. We certainly have. Pint jars of the stuff make great and appreciated Christmas gifts as well.


    Although I have not made rumtopf – I have made sangria in a similar manner – but not for preserving.

    Basically, you take a sangria wine, and cut up different types of fruits, pour the sangria over it, and let it sit for a day or so. It gives a nice fruity flavor to the sangria the next day. Just be careful, eating all the fruit can also make you drunk.


    Welcome back Drakenstead. I’ll have to give that rumtopf a try. I do make cordials and have done sangria as well.

    I do keep a fair amount of salt, sugar, honey, and alcohol for food preservation. All but the salt would go well with the fruit (for my palate).

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