June 15, 2018
Cherry season is coming to its end, as is the wild strawberry season.
This means that it’s about time to start making your rum pot, which will keep you warm during the next long winter.
The tradition of preserving fruit in liquor is quite common in Slovenia, with borovničevec (wild blueberries deepened in fruit liquor) being the most popular and accessible version.
As for the rum pot, which can contain all sorts of fruits, including raisins, mango chunks and peaches, we will return to traditions that have passed the test of time and proved best in achieving fruity flavours and aromas, as well as the crystal clearness and beautiful purplish ruby colour of the resulting beverage.
We will therefore avoid adding any big or exotic fruit cut in chunks, and opt instead for berries of all kinds, wild ones if possible.
Basic ingredients: a big glass pot, a bottle of rum, sugar and a vanilla stick
We began with the cherries as they were the first appropriate fruit to appear in the market, and then we add various other berries as the season progresses.
Ingredients (with very approximate measurements):
1 litre of brown rum
1 vanilla stick
Sugar (4 tbsp. per litre, adjust to your taste)
1 cup of cherries (optional – we took ours out when they lost their colour)
2 cups of sour cherries, višnje (most recommended)
½ cup of wild strawberries (optional- we took them out after turning greyish and soft)
¼ cup of wild blueberries (not too many, or they will turn your rum pot too dark)
½ cup of redcurrants
½ cup of raspberries
½ cup of dewberries
We begin with the first thing we find available, and in our case these were cherries.
Take the cherries off their stems, put them in the pot, add the vanilla stick and sugar, pour over some rum and put it aside until you find another fruit to be added. This will also give you an opportunity to taste the level of sweetness and add more or less sugar with the next round of fruit (and rum).
A couple of days later our hunter-gatherer grandpa took us to his secret strawberry location, so we saved some of those for our pot as well.
Strawberries are peaking at the altitudes above 800 metres at the moment, but might already be over in the lower-lying areas.
Nevertheless, a couple of days ago,we hit the jackpot by coming across some sour cherries at Ljubljana central market. By this time our cherries and strawberries had been soaking in our pot for about two weeks, and completely lost their colour. Also, strawberries, besides loosing their looks quite fast, tend to cloud the liquid if too many are used. We would have left everything inside if we had a bigger pot, but we decided to take some of the earlier fruit out and make space for more of our sour cherries.
We decided to replaace some of the cherries, which by then already lost all of their colour to the rum.
Sour cherries are much more aromatic than the ordinary kind, but also much more sour and less sweet. They are softer and picked without the stem, which is why they go bad much faster and should best be consumed the same day you get them.
Sour cherries (višnje) on the left and ordinary cherries, right.
We are now getting ready for the blueberries, which are already ripening in the lowlands around Ljubljana basin. Garden raspberries can already be found in some gardens, while their wild sisters will be ripe by the end of July. We won't be looking for dewberries in the forests, unless we make a trip to the littoral, but will pick them at our grandma's garden instead, the same will go for redcurrants which we, like dewberries, expect in the beginning of July.
Before we add all this stuff we might want to make some space in our pot or get a bigger one. Unitl then, we will keep the pot tightly closed to retain all the spirits inside. After all, if the alcohol escapes then the fruit will go bad as well.
Time and patience are two of the most important ingredients