Wand’ring Bark Rumtopf

I am very excited.  It does not take much as has been noted before.  I have been watching a Rumtopf Jar on Ebay and it is due to end this evening.

The tension is almost too much to bear.  I have not placed my bid yet.  My ebay technique is to watch like a hawk, should a hawk ever browse ebay that is.  Then I swoop down, more hawk metaphors, and fling my bid in at the last-minute with the maximum I am prepared to spend.  As techniques go it is not a bad one, though I suspect real hawks may do better.  After all, one never sees them complaining about the ebay items that got away.

Anyway, anyway, anyway.  I have been keeping my beady eye fixed on ebay ever since I started Wand’ring Bark‘s Rumtopf during our Droitwich trip.  It was one of the things I decided had to be done with the vast quantities of cherry plums I acquired.  Only as a rumtopf virgin I did not realise that size really does matter.  I am not known as a mathematician.  Sums and numbers, I leave to the Captain.  However, I do think he could have pointed out to me that my 2 litre kilner jar was never going to fit the kilo of fruit, 500g of sugar and 2 litres of rum I was trying to fit in it.  I know, I know, it should have been obvious.  But like I said, I am not good with numbers.  Or sums.  Just ask any of my previous maths teachers.  They probably still shudder.  So instead of pointing the obvious out, the Captain sat back and sniggered at my vain attempts.  His defence?  It was good entertainment.  Hummphff.

Clearly, I was not going to get everything in my jar so compromise was in order.  I layered fruit.  First red cherry plums.  Then blackberries.  Next yellow cherry plums.  So far so good.  Finally I added wild raspberries.  It was looking very pretty.  At this point I poured in the sugar and my jar was already three-quarters full.  This did not bode well for the rum.  I probably managed to squeeze in just under a litre.  This was the compromise.  I decided getting a larger pot at a later date was always an option.

Which brings me back to my exciting evening of ebay watching.  I want this particular jar because it is big.  I have a LOT more rum to add.  I am also hoping to add fruit on every trip we take until the autumn.  So it will be a truly boating rumtopf.   I also want it because it is blue.  And for those who have watched Dougal and the Blue Cat:

you will understand that blue is beautiful, blue is best.  It appeals to the girly in me because it is the right blue to match my kitchen.  But most of all I want it because it will arrive in time for our trip to the Huddersfield Canal later this month.  Then it will live aboard, as I flit about the hedgerows gathering fruit hither and thither and tossing my bounty into its vast innards until the day it is ready to spew forth its contents in a delicious orgy of tipsy berries and alco-frolick nectar.  Yum.  Though I may have to work on my metaphors …


I won!  Got it 🙂


More alco-frolicking & Rhubarb Schnapps

This week has been a bit busy, what with maternal duties, hospital appointments and migraines taking up my time.  I had intended to post the recipe for my Cherry Plum Chutney which I will do soon, I hope.  In the meantime, I did manage to do some alco-frolicking and bottled three lots of spirits I have been steeping.

The Currant Shrub recipe which I shared here, was ready for having sugar added and then bottling.  I made two batches, one with dark rum and one with white to see whether either was preferable.  The bottles need to lie down in a dark room until Christmas (sounds like me!), but obviously I had to try some of the drips.  Both are VERY promising.

The Raspberrycello was also ready for bottling which was doubly exciting because unlike its late developing neighbour, it is ready for drinking now AND the vodka sozzled raspberries were begging to be eaten.  I made a rather grown up jelly with the drunken fruit and the Captain and I enjoyed it one evening in front of the telly.  Yum.

Finally, my Rhubarb Schnapps was also ready for bottling.  I set this to steep back in about March when the first rhubarb had just begun to be available.  It turned out to be the only and last harvest from my Mum’s garden which is very sad.  Long has she provided me with rhubarb but it seems her plants have finally given up the ghost.  However, I would like to think this tipple is a fitting tribute.  The recipe is a Nigella Lawson and is divine.  You may still be able to track down some rhubarb or just file it away until i is next in season.

Rhubarb Schnapps

Makes 1 litre

approximately 1kg rhubarb, to make 600g trimmed weight

300g caster sugar

1 litre vodka (cheaper the better)

Chop the rhubarb and place into a 2 litre jar.  Add the sugar, put the lid on and shake well.  Pour in the vodka to fill, adding more if necessary.  Close lid and store somewhere cool and dark for at least 6 weeks and up to 6 months.  Shake the jar every day or every other day for the first month or so.  Sometime between 6 weeks and 6 months, then, strain through scalded muslin and pour into sterilised bottles.


… or perhaps that should be frolicking with alcohol? Certainly my local Tesco thinks I have been making free with the spirits lately. And that would not be spirits of the supernatural variety. No. I have taken to buying vast quantities of the cheapest sorts of vodka, brandy, rum and even whisky. Which is a drink I despise. Coupled with my propensity to fall down, I am gaining something of a reputation. However, the truth of the matter is, it is not just things jam-like that I have been obsessing over.

Yesterday, I shared with you the adventures of my Currant Shrub. Well, they were not so much adventures, as consolation for valiantly wading through my self-pitying wallow. Thank you so much for your kind comments, both here and elsewhere. I enjoyed my misery. It was fun while it lasted but I will do my utmost to remain resolutely good-humoured in future. Excellent. Good to know. Back to the alcohol.

Having set the Currant Shrub to strain yesterday, I measured 500ml of juice so decided to experiment with two batches. One I have mixed with white rum, and for the other I have used dark. I would have used brandy but discovered that I used all that up in the Cherry Ratafia. I dare not return for more alcohol to Tesco just yet as on Monday I bought 2 litres of vodka, 1 litre of gin, 1 bottle of white rum, 1 bottle of sparkling wine, 6 mini bottles of rosé, 2 bottles white wine and 6 bottles of ale. I shall let you know of the results. Of the Shrub that is. The results of that amount of alcohol needs no feedback. Currently (pun intended!), it is sitting in its jars having turned to a sludgy gel. Something to do with pectin levels. And science stuff.

Anyway, more alco-frolicking was to be had in my garden. Along with the redcurrants in the garden, we also have some raspberry canes. They vary in their productivity but this year they have been pretty good so far with the promise of more to come. I am delighted with the following recipe for several reasons. First, because it only uses 200g of raspberries rather than a billion and one kilos which always seems to be the case when I am waiting, admittedly somewhat impatiently, for my fruit to ripen. Secondly, because it doesn’t need to lie down in a darkened room and be pampered for months, or even be ignored, before it is ready. It will be ready for drinking in a mere 7-10 days. Hurrah! My other reasons are very trivial. I like its colour. I love saying its name. Try saying it. It sort of explodes in the mouth like a fit of the giggles. It sounds frivolous and fun. In fact, exactly the sort of drink I would choose for a spot of alco-frolicking! I am looking forward to trying it with champagne cocktails. Yum.


200g raspberries

750ml vodka

200g granulated sugar

Put all the ingredients in a jar. Seal and leave to infuse for 2 weeks, inverting or shaking the jar every few days to redistribute the fruit and sugar.

Pour into a sieve and strain into a jug, putting the raspberries to one side. Taste for sweetness adding more sugar as required. Pour into sterilised bottles and store in the freezer for ice-cold drinking.

Use the vodka spiked raspberries as a pudding. Try on their own or as a base for crème brûlée.