Just when you think you’ve made almost every kind of jam there is, you find a new one. Or at least, thats my story anyway. I present to you today, “Bachelor’s jam”; one of the oldest kinds of fruit preservation there is. Yep. You read that correctly. One of the oldest. And might I add- the easiest.
In Germany, it’s known as rumtopf (rum pot). Perhaps you’ve heard of that. Let’s see what Wikipedia says:
Rumtopf (Danish: Romkrukke), which literally means rum pot, is a German and Danish dessert, traditionally eaten around Christmas. Once a popular traditional dessert, Rumtopf has become rather unfashionable in recent years.
A mixture of various kinds of fruit, high-strength rum, often Stroh’s, and sugar is filled into a large stoneware pot (the eponymous rum pot) and matured for several months until the fruit is very soft and completely saturated with rum. Suitable fruit includes berries, cherries, plums and apricots. Not all fruits are appropriate for Rumtopf, and the overproof rum should be of only 100-110 proof (50-55% alcohol by volume), which is not commonly available at retail in all regions, but can be prepared by blending more common commercially available 151 proof and 80 proof rums.
Traditionally, the pot is set up in a cool and dark place in Spring, and different kinds of ripe fruit are added to it over the months as they come in season. The fruit is thereby preserved to be eaten in Winter, when the Rumtopf is matured.
In France? It’s known as confiture de vieux garçon, or bachelor’s jam. And sometimes it’s even called “officer’s jam” (which is even better & more appropriate for us!). I happen to think that’s a far more intriguing name, so that’s what I’m going with.
In order to make this, there is little to no effort on your part. Seriously. If you can chop fruit, and you have both alcohol and sugar in your possession, then you can make this. No canning required. You don’t even need to add herbs or spices or fancy stuff; it’s fine on it’s own. And best part? NO COOKING. At ALL. Not even turning on a burner on the stove!
I got the idea for this recipe over at The Chalkboard Magazine, but it’s all over the web, in all different versions. All you need to do is get your hands on some fresh summer fruits. Anything will work, stone fruits and berries work spectacularly well, but in theory you could use pineapple, melons, pears or apples too. You’ll need to cut it up and remove the pits (unless you want to leave ’em in), then add them to a jar layered with sugar. Then just pour your alcohol of choice- brandy, rum, gin, vodka, kirsch- over it.
That is it. Seal that baby up, put it in a dark, fairly cool spot, and come the fall/winter, you’ve got some delicious treat waiting for you.
I made the smaller jar a few days prior to the larger apricot jar; its halved cherries and star anise in Maker’s Mark bourbon. You can tell that the sugar has pretty much dissolved in that one. The jar of apricots are in New Amsterdam gin with fresh pineapple sage.
Then, because it’s so fun and easy to do, I made this other jar with my leftover apricots & some King’s County Distillery chocolate whiskey. This one smelled like heaven. I used all relatively small (6-12 oz.) jars to do this.
Alternatively, you can use a very large jar, maybe a gallon, and add to it as the season goes on- start off with strawberries, then cherries, then peaches, plums, apricots, blackberries, etc. Or do one jar with figs, apples and pears in a bourbon or brandy, and one with summery fruits in vodka or gin.
Or do what I did, and use a flavored alcohol.
- Blueberries, rosemary and vodka
- Pears, orange peel, ginger and whiskey
- Figs, lemon peel and rum
- Peaches, nectarines, vanilla bean and brandy
- Cherries, star anise or cloves and bourbon
- Apricots, thyme and gin
And some ideas of mine:
- Peaches, mint and vodka
- Cherries, chocolate whiskey
- Pineapple, cilantro, tequila
- Blueberries, basil and gin
- Peaches, blackberries, mint and vodka
- Pineapple and coconut rum
Here’s the deal: use a good quality alcohol, but not the best you can buy. Something that tastes decent, but yet isn’t filled with complexity of flavor & nuance. The liquor will just end up absorbing the flavors of the fruits and herbs anyway. It’s like making peppers in oil– why use the best quality extra virgin olive oil when you won’t be able to taste those nuances anyway?
When the fall comes, or the winter, take your jar, open it and give it a stir. Then enjoy the fruits of your labor.