A Sweet Taste of Germany: Preserving Summer’s Bounty

Marinated-fruit-in rum

Preserving summer’s bounty of berries and fruits is a favorite pastime in Germany as it is in North America. Marinate them in rum to make Rumtopf. Mash them to make Rote Gruetze. Create, or purchase, artful fruit jams, butters and jellies. In Germany, you’ll often find sweet spreads made from colder climate fruits, such as gooseberries (Stachelbeeren), European cranberries (Preiselbeeren), elderberries (Holunderbeeren) and red or black currants (rote oder schwarze Johannisbeeren). Very popular in the area of Aachen in North-Rhine Westphalia,  as well as Baden-Württemberg, are plums (Pflaumen or Zwetschgen) which are made into plum butter (Pflaumenmus). Here are some ideas what you can do with summer’s bounty:

RumtopfMarinated-fruit-in rum

This is a traditional dessert of marinated berries and fruits soaked in rum served during the cold season in Germany. Although it’s easy to make, it takes several months before it is actually ready to eat. So, ideally you should start making your Rumtopf in late summer, early fall to be able to enjoy it during winter holidays. In to make it in the classic German style it is best to purchase a large stoneware Rumtopf jar that is slightly porous. You will also need a dark cool place in which to store it while the fruit ferments.

Rote Gruetze (Kaltschale)

Summer berries are the essential ingredients in the cold summer dish (Kaltschale) known as Rote Grütze, which has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity over the past few years. Served with a spoonful of quark, vanilla pudding, or vanilla ice cream, this makes for a healthy, refreshing dessert during the summer months and early fall. Any selection of berries can be used, but at least one of them should have a tart taste and red currants are a must. Dried plums are used in another Kaltschale dish known as Plumi (or Pluma) Moos, a recipe that brings back many memories for American Mennonite families.

Sweet Spreads

While the art and craft of preserving fruits through heat in airtight jars (in German: Einwecken, Einmachen, Einkochen) is known across bordersit’s finding the right berries that’s the challenge. While strawberry, blueberry and blackberry are the most common fruit preserves in the US, you can find a larger variety of colder climate berries in Germany. Commercially made superfruits  include Gooseberry (Stachelbeere), Rosehip (Hagebutte), Seabuckthorn (Sanddorn), Elderberry (Holunderbeere), Red and Black Currant (Johannisbeere), Lingonberry (Preiselbeere), or Aroniaberry (Aronia).

Plum Sheet CakePlum Cake and Cherry Pie

Use late summer fruits to make tempting desserts, cakes and pies such as Zwetschgenkuchen or plum cake, Kirsch Streusel Kuchen (cherry streusel cake), Obstsalat (fruit salad), Erdbeerstrudel (strawberry strudel) and the list goes on. You can find an excellent guide to German fruits with a wealth of recipes on collection of summer cherry and berry fruit recipes.

More recipes to explore:

Zwetschenkuchen (plum torte) recipe
Chocolate Cherry Torte recipe
Find Plumi Moos recipe on Food.com
Read more about summer fruits in Germany
Visit the Taste of Germany to find these and other sweet treats and enjoy a “fruitful” summer!