Tutti-frutti: What it is, and how to make your own
Adapted from an article by Dorothy Robertson – Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia) August 19, 1962
A perfect way to preserve summer fruits for year-round enjoyment is to do as your ancestors did and make some tutti-frutti.
Tutti-Frutti is an assortment of fruits preserved in grain alcohol or brandy, with sugar. In some parts of the country, this traditionally European invention is called potpourri, rumtopf, or fruit crock.
In Virginia, it has always been “tutti-frutti.” The hostess with the mostest always made sure to have a crock or jar or two of this potent fruit sauce ready for Christmas.
Several months are needed to develop the fullest flavor. Originally, tutti-frutti was always started in the spring, when the first strawberries were ripe, and from then on as each fruit came in season, it was added to the mixture.
Today, with a variety of fresh fruits and even California strawberries in the market all summer, you can start almost any time to make tutti-frutti. Strawberries, however, are not essential. Those old cooks who operated in the days before supermarkets used what they had in their own gardens. Strawberries were plentiful as well as early.
It’s simple to make — and simply divine as a sauce over ice cream or any plain pudding or cake.
The first thing to do is to put the brandy or fine grain alcohol in a stone crock with a tight cover. Heavy rum may be substituted for alcohol.
Place one quart of the strawberries, or shredded fresh pineapple, with one quart of sugar in a crock with the liquor. Stir well with a wooden spoon.
As other fruits come in season, add an equal amount of fruit and sugar and stir well. Cherries should be stemmed and pitted. Peaches should be peeled and sliced. Grapes should be seeded if necessary. (Do not use bananas or apples.) Use your own ingenuity in providing a variety of fruits and berries.
See two tutti-frutti recipes below
Tutti-frutti: That tasty treat
By Dorothy Crandall – The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) July 7, 1966
Tutti-frutti is brandied fruit done in a crock, and added to as new fruits come into season. When only perfect, firm-ripe fruits are used, tutti frutti is a fantastic dessert as is — or ladle it over ice cream, pudding or cake.
Serve a dish of tutti-frutti with crackers and crema danica cheese. Southern families serve it with holiday menus of roast poultry and smoked ham.
There are two recipes. One uses natural fermentation and brandy develops gradually, in a month or two. The second starts with two cups of excellent brandy to encourage fermentation.
A cool, dry place is required. Directions must be followed exactly. Glass jars that have been sterilized (boiled 15 minutes in water to cover) are the final containers. These should be stored in a cool, dark place.
You might begin in summer with big bing cherries, which are simply stemmed, washed, drained and packed in layers in the bottom of the crock.
Brandied tutti-frutti recipe
1 pound bing cherries
1 pound peaches
1 pound nectarines
1 pound pears
3 pounds grapes (Thompson seedless, muscat, Malaga)
7 pounds sugar
Stem cherries, wash, drain — but that’s all.
Rub fuzz off peaches with clean cloth. With a fork, prick all over peaches, nectarines, pears. Do not prick or seed grapes, simply wash and drain.
In stone crock holding at least 8 quarts, layer fruit with sugar. Cover with crock lid or waxed paper and let stand in cool place until syrup forms. Every three days use a clean stick or plastic spoon to stir up sugar in bottom of crock.
After a week, when fruit floats in the syrup, press down with a plate and a non-metal weight and cover with waxed paper. Stir occasionally from bottom until sugar is dissolved.
Let fruit stand until fermentation is complete, a month or so. Pack in sterile jars, seal and store in cool, dark place. Makes about 6 quarts.
MORE: How do you choose a ripe pineapple?
Brandied tutti-frutti, recipe 2
1 pint excellent brandy
2 cups peeled, sliced pineapple
1 pint strawberries
1 pound bing cherries
1 pint raspberries
1 pound apricots, pricked
1 pound nectarines, pricked
1 pound peaches, pricked
1 pound Thompson seedless or muscat grapes
In large-size crock, holding at least 10 quarts, pour brandy. Add pineapple and 2 cups sugar. Cover crock tightly.
As each fruit comes into season, add it with an equal weight of sugar.
Gently stir sugar from the bottom of crock every three days, to dissolve sugar. If at any time fruit floats in syrup. weigh it down with a plate and non-metal weight.
When the fruit no longer bubbles after the last addition of fruit and sugar, pack fruit and syrup in sterile jars and seal. Develop this recipe and store it in a cool, dry, dark place. Makes about 9 quarts.
Tutti-frutti tips from 1899
The Times (Washington DC) May 07, 1899
— If high flavor is wanted, add a little pounded mace and grated lemon peel, or a race [root or sprig] of ginger, well-bruised.
— Whatever fruit is used must be fully ripe, but not over-ripe, and very perfect.
— Among plums, damsons and egg plums are best. Do not leave in more than half the pits, or the bitter almond flavor will be too strong.
— Use clingstone peaches, but cut most of them from the seed.
— Let stand three months after the last fruit is in before using.