Pam Corbin | The River Cottage Preserves Handbook | Ten Speed Press, 2010 | Makes two 12-ounce jars
This jam recipe is also known as officer’s jam, but it’s really not a jam at all. The German name, Rumtopf, seems far more appropriate for what is actually a cocktail of rum-soaked fruit. The idea is that the mixture of fruit, alcohol, and sugar is added to gradually, as different fruits ripen throughout the growing season. This jam, er, preserve, is usually prepared with Christmas in mind, when the potent fruity alcohol is drunk and the highly spirited fruit can be served on its own or with ice cream and pound cake. If you’re in a hurry, you can make this jam recipe in one go, preferably in late summer, when lots of different fruits should be available. However, I do find it more fun to add the fruit over several months, whenever I have a surplus.—Pam Corbin
LC For Once, A Homemade Gift That Will Be Welcomed Note: No thinly veiled looks of disappointment on the faces of recipients’ faces of this gift of jam, not after you explain what it is. You’ll see the sense of recognition and gratitude take over. If, that is, you can bear to part with the boozy fruit. Whether you keep it for yourself or not, consider joining our BACHELOR/ETTE JAM SESSION. Here’s how it works. Start making your jam now in order to gift it, er, serve it at the holidays. In December, take a picture of it and e-mail it to us, along with a brief rundown of the fruits and the hooch you were inspired to rely upon, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll post responses for all to see. You’re welcome.
Special equipment: You’ll need a large glazed stoneware or earthenware pot with a tightly fitting lid and small plate, saucer, or other flat object that will fit inside the pot and keep the fruit submerged.
Bachelor’s Jam Recipe
- Fruit in season
- 4 to 8 cups 80-proof booze, whether rum, brandy, vodka, or gin
- Granulated sugar (Use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar per pound of fruit)
1. Choose just-ripe fruits as they appear through the summer and fall. I normally kick off the pot with some of the first sweet strawberries of the season. Place these in the bottom of your pot and, for every pound of fruit, sprinkle over 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar. Leave this for an hour or so, then pour in about 4 cups of your chosen alcohol. Place the saucer on top of the fruit to make sure the fruit remains immersed. Then cover the pot with plastic wrap and, finally, a close-fitting lid. Cover and refrigerate.
2. Carry on like this throughout the summer and autumn, adding raspberries, cherries, peaches, plums, damson plums, pears, grapes, and blackberries as they come into season. (I avoid currants and gooseberries because their skins tend to toughen in the alcohol syrup, and I find rhubarb is too acid for the pot.) Add the sugar each time too, and keep topping up the alcohol so that it always covers the fruit by about 3/4 inch.
3. Do not stir the fruit at any point, just let it sit in its layers. When the pot is full to the brim, cover it tightly with a fresh piece of plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge for a couple of months before you start enjoying the jam. (LC Editor’s Note: There’s no need to actually “preserve” the jam in the sense of sterilizing jars and sealing them and so forth. The refrigeration and booze will do the trick.) Just prior to using, dig deep and give the contents a good stir to combine all the scrumptious flavors. Use the jam within 1 year.
Bachelor’s jam recipe © 2010 Pam Corbin. Photo © 2010 Gavin Kingcome. All rights reserved.