Zeal Monachorum Online


Down with Units!

As the Headquarters of the campaign for the abolition of Units, along with Calories, 5 Portions, Compulsory Exercise and the Nanny State, we proudly present Tony's recipe for Apple Wine, our original untraditional Rumtopf, plus some boozy facts and quotations.

When the spring and summer weather has been kind to the apple tree, the boughs will be heaving with fruit come September. Even if you have no apple trees in your garden, you may know a neighbour willing to part with any surplus. Don't miss such an opportunity, for the humble apple can be turned into a wine fit for a king.

Crushing Apples

The secret of good apple wine is to extract the juice from the apples and dilute with a small proportion of water. I recommend 3 parts of juice to 2 of water as a minimum concentration. Use as many different apple varieties as you can lay your hands on as this yields a better quality wine. Avoid cookers as they are too high in pectin. The best way to convert your apples to juice is to use a fruit press. The wooden one shown on the right might be desirable as an artefact in a modern theme pub. However it is unsuitable for the job in hand as the wooden spindle will slip under pressure. You can hire a strong press with a metal spindle together with a fruit crusher from The Quayside in Exeter. This may cost about £15 per day (2004 prices), but is well worth it if you have access to unlimited free apples, and are near Exeter.

Add Ingredients

Assuming you have achieved a good concentration of juice, and some sweet varieties of apple were included, 1kg of sugar per gallon should suffice. Use less if you prefer a drier wine. Mix in 150 ml of white grape concentrate if you can lay your hands on some. Add the recommended amount of pectic enzyme and leave for 24 hours before adding the wine yeast and nutrient. A teaspoon of citric acid per gallon can be included also.


After fermentation is complete, rack the wine as normal. A second racking may be necessary if fermentation restarts. After about 6 months the wine should be perfectly clear and ready for bottling. It is ready for drinking at this stage, though if you have the patience it is preferable to let it mature for a further two years. Enjoy!

  • 4 500gram packs mixed frozen soft fruits (c 4½lb)
  • 2lb4oz caster sugar
  • bottle of rum (or any spirit)
  • 3litre glass preserving jar

Tip fruit into large bowl. Add sugar. Leave overnight. Put into glass jar and fill up with spirit. Try to leave for a day or two before eating!

This is the best rumtopf I've ever tasted, having made it the traditional way many times. I used organic fruit frozen without sugar. Details about sugar added will be on the packet.

I doubt this will keep well, unlike the traditional Rumtopf; but it doesn't stay around long enough to find out. Could serve with cream or ice cream. This is also on the Recipes page, under Puds.

  • "Water: the only drink for a wise man."
  • Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862).


  • "Desire of wine and all delicious drinks,
  • Which many a famous Warriour overturns,
  • Thou couldst repress, nor did the dancing Rubie
  • Sparkling, out-pow'rd, the flavor, or the smell,
  • Or taste that cheers the heart of Gods and men,
  • Allure thee from the cool Crystalline stream."
  • From Milton's Samson Agonistes (1608-1674).

Did we get it all wrong? Proof of alcohol had been shown in early settlements 6-8000 years ago. Was settlement to assure booze-supplies year-round instead of by chance fermentation of summer fruits, rather than driven by the need to ensure a consistent supply of food?

A noble tradition! After the Republican victory in the English Civil War alcohol was banned. Raising one's glass was traditionally a toast to the monarch's health. With the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, happiness returned to England. Cheers!

Other animals too enjoy their tipple. Butterflies and moths consume the nectar from fermenting fruit. Intoxicated birds fall from the trees. Apes and monkeys will drink to varying degrees. One group of monkeys studied formed four separate behaviour groups: total abstainers, social drinkers, steady drinkers and drink-'til-you-drop drinkers. At least one zoo gives its anthropoid apes diluted brandy, to cheer them up in winter. Our Alaskan friends could empathise.

wine press

antique wine or apple press


real German Rumtopf jar
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