Rote grütze has been on my mind for the last seven summers.
My relatives served it to me in Hamburg when I was visiting, and I remember being surprised by the tart red berries and cataloguing it in my mind as yet another delicious German dessert.
They served it – thick and saucy and full of berries – with a light vanilla sauce.
That is the traditional way to eat rote grütze and I heartily recommend it.
However, I happen to have vanilla ice cream on hand . . . and that led to the revelation that I could put rote grütze on top of ice cream instead of sauce on top of rote grütze.
Rote grütze literally means red groats. Groats, I have learned from extensive research, are any hulled cereal grain. Here, they refer to plump and ripe summertime berries.
You can gather up whatever red (or reddish) berries you like – cherries, raspberries, loganberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries – whatever is ripe.
But you must use red currants. Their crunchy seeds and tart flavour lift rote grütze well off the North American palate and transport it over to Deutschland.
Look at these currants. They are so excited to join the rote grütze that they’re actually dancing!
I hear you can also make weisse grütze (white groats) and grüne grütze (green groats), so I also bought some white currants to freeze and use later . . . Once I think of some good white and green fruit to add.
Here is my recipe for rote grütze. Substitute any berries you like for the cherries, raspberries and blueberries, but keep the currants. (Have I made myself clear on the currant issue?) I also used rum because rum and red berries are delicious. (Hallo, rumtopf!)
If you’d like to make a more traditional, thicker pudding instead of a sauce, add one or two extra tablespoons of cornstarch (and water to dissolve it).
I tried to take a good close-up for you, but as you can see, the ice cream could hardly wait to eat it up.
rote grütze on ice cream
1 c. red currants
1 c. raspberries
1 c. cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
1 c. blueberries
1/4 c. honey
2 tbsp. lemon juice (one small lemon)
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. rum
vanilla ice cream
Put the berries, honey, lemon juice and 1/4 c. water in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot. Set it over medium-low heat and bring it to a boil, stirring often.
Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until the berries get juicy and soft. (If you’re feeling impatient at this point, you can spend your time bursting a few blueberries on the side of the pot.)
While the berries are cooking, use a small bowl to mix the cornstarch with 1/4 c. cold water. Mix well.
Once the berries are ready, stir in the cornstarch mixture. Keep stirring and simmer for another minute or two, until it has thickened.
Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and rum.
Serve immediately over vanilla ice cream or refrigerate until you’re ready for dessert. You can heat it up again at that point if you like, but it’s also lovely cold.