Fish in the Water asked about how to make plum vodka. I don't actually make the vodka part from scratch, just the adding the flavour part so it's really not complicated. This is where first took the instructions from as I happened to read it just after I had moved to Germany and found the local farmers market which had just started selling mountains of plums. Since then I've read other bits and pieces on various blogs and websites and in a few different books which has led me to come with a rough idea of what to do without having to obsessively check the recipe every two minutes. So here's how I do it:
1 kg plums (left whole but pricked with a fork or skewer to allow the juices to flow) = approx. 2lbs
500g (or a bit less) sugar = approx. 1lb
1 bottle of cheap vodka/gin or whatever your alcohol of choice is. Apparently rum or brandy could work well too. A bottle around here is usually around 700ml.
Prick the plums and put them into a jar (one giant one if you have it, I don't so usually end up using two x 1 litre jars) sprinkling a bit of sugar over each layer. Why I bother to sprinkle the sugar over each layer I'm not really sure because once you've done that you fill the jar up with the gin/vodka and all the sugar ends up down the bottom anyway. I reckon it allows be to more or less be even with my distribution of sugar between the jars so just go with it for now. One day I'll either realise there's a good reason or stop doing it altogether.
Anyway, that's it. Simple as anything. Put the jars somewhere cool and dark and shake every few days. After a few months all the sugar will be dissolved and you can decant the liquid into bottles. I intend to try and find a good use for the fruit this year but mostly it just gets discarded, which seems a waste. Or, you can do as I did the first year I made this and shake the jars every few days for the first week or so, realise your jars are overfull and not quite as watertight as you thought and at some stage have fermented up and over the side of the jars, leaving sticky rings on the cupboard shelf they're on, decide that that plus life is just all too overwhelming, close the cupboard door and not go back to it for six months or so. At which stage you might decant the liquid into a nice bottle and then leave it sitting for another four months before a friend finally tries it and declares it to be the best thing ever. It's quite a forgiving method of making something you see.
The rumtopf is similar: 1 kg fruit to 500g sugar plus 1 litre of rum. Although as the bottles come in 700ml, that's a bit awkward. But with the rumtopf the idea is that you add a layer of different soft fruits as they come into season and so it is built up over the course of the whole summer and then left to rest for a few months and brought out to enjoy at christmas. I wish I had a bigger container for mine as 2 kg of fruit plus 1 kg of sugar and 3 bottles of rum have nearly filled it so I'll have to wait patiently now for the first apples and pears to try and squeeze a couple of them in before putting it away to soak. But it's fun to try these things.