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Cumberland Rum Butter traditional Christmas recipe.

Updated on November 27, 2017

Cumberland Rum Butter-a simple traditional Christmas recipe from England.

Cumberland rum butter is a traditional Lake District recipe that will spice up your desserts . Rum butter is basically butter and rum, with added sugar- a magical rum butter combination.Use rum butter the traditional way- melted over your Christmas pudding, or serve with any dessert or ice cream for a special treat. Rum butter is a historical recipe that is such an easy recipe that anyone can make it.

Cumberland is an old county in the North West of England, now part of the county of Cumbria. Cumbria is the home of England's Lake District, and Cumberland Rum Butter is a traditional Lake District Food speciality.

Essentially, Cumberland rum butter is made of three ingredients- rum, butter and sugar. Simple!

Lake Disitrict recipes usually feature exotic ingredients from the West Indies, and rum butter is one of the Lake District recipes that rely heavily on a Caribbean special- RUM

In the UK you can buy ready made Cumberland rum butter, and this photo is of a jar of Cumberland rum butter made by Quiggins of Kendal.

However, rum butter is so easy to make that you can make it yourself. It also makes a great homemade gift to take round to friends. Just make a batch of rum butter, put it in a pretty little pot or jar, wrap in ribbon or pretty paper and you have a very welcome, quite special little homemade gift.

Cumberland rum butter dates back to the 18th Century.Traditionally, Cumberland rum butter was made in the winter months, and used to liven up the often rather dull fare of 300 years ago. Nowadays, Cumberland rum butter is especially popular at Christmas, when it is served with traditional Christmas pudding, or melted over hot mince pies.

Rum butter is also delicious on hot toast, or melted over hot pancakes. I love rum butter on hot baked apples too.

Read on to find out about the history of rum butter, how to make it and lots more information about rum butter! You can also find out about a much loved variation on rum butter- brandy butter!

I hope you enjoy reading about rum butter, one of the great traditional foods from Wordsworth's Lake District

The History of Cumberland Rum Butter

In the 18th Century the West Cumbria ports of Whitehaven , Workington and Maryport hummed with activity, as they were the centre of trade with the British West Indies. Into the diets of the Cumbrian people came the exotic foods and spices of the Caribbean. Dark muscovado sugar, rum, ginger, nutmeg, raisins and all manner of new and wonderful goods flowed into the UK through the Cumberland ports.

Soon these new foods found their way throughout the country, and this area, which is now something of a backwater, became one of the main trading areas of Britain.

It is not clear who had the original idea of mixing rum, sugar and butter together to form a sweet paste, but soon this new mixture grew in popularity. Originally the new rum butter was just enjoyed by the sailors who brought in the rum and sugar, and their families in the ports of Cumbria. However, this sweet treat soon became more universally popular, spreading to the merchants and wealthy families of England's Lake District, and then on to the cities and London.

In the reign of Queen Victoria, rum butter, often with livened up with some grated nutmeg, could be found on every fashionable dinner table. The great china houses made special rum butter bowls to present the delicacy.Rum butter was an essential at every christening, and the mother was given rum butter to help restore her to health after the birth. in some places there was a tradition that the guests who shared in the rum butter would leave a silver coin, which would be collected in the rum butter bowl for the future good health of the baby.

Traditional rum butter bowls are on display at the Beacon Museum in Whitehaven.

Photo of the Beacon Museum, Whitehaven, Cumbria thanks to flickr creative commons.

Today there is a revival of interest in traditional foods, and Cumberland Rum Butter is once again very popular. Many small lake distirct food companies such as the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop make and sell their own rum butter in jars to take away as souvenirs of a visit to Grasmere and the Lake district.

Let's not pretend that Cumberland Rum butter is a great food for those on a low fat or low calorie diet! Cumberland Rum butter is a treat to be eaten on special occasions, or just to cheer yourself up on a drab winter's days- dripping over toast or English muffins.

Don't wait any longer- take a look at my recipe and make your own traditional Cumberland rum butter!

A recipe from Whitemoss for Traditional Cumberland rum butter.

Rum Butter recipe

Here is my Rum Butter Recipe

6 oz (175 gram) room temperature butter ( lightly salted is best ) If you use a stick of butter then use the same weight of sugar.

6 oz ( 175 gram) sugar. If possible use soft dark muscovado sugar.

6 Tablespoons of dark rum.

Nutmeg to taste.

Beat the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon, or use a food mixer if your prefer.

When the mixture is soft and slightly paler, gradually add the rum.

If you like grated nutmeg, use whole nutmegs and grate a little into the mixture to suit your taste.

Pile the mixture into little pots or jars, and put in the fridge to chill.

The rum butter will become hard- in fact, rum butter's old traditional name was "hard sauce"

The rum butter mixture freezes well, so if you are making this for Christmas you can wrap the rum butter in film or in freezer bags and store in the freezer.

Rum butter will keep in the fridge for two weeks.

As an alternative, you can use brandy instead of rum to make Brandy Butter. Brandy butter is used in the same way as rum butter. It's up to you which to try on your Christmas pudding. Why not make both? Rum butter or brandy butter is so easy to make, yet it is a taste of history that your friends and family will love.

That's it- what could be more simple- a taste of history.

Rum butter in a pot ready for the table

Rum Butter and Christmas pudding- a great combination. - Christmas pudding recipes- melt your rum butter over the top- mmmmm!

Traditional Christmas pudding is served with the Christmas dinner in Britain and many places around the world.An English Christmas pudding with rum butter is one of the best desserts in the world!

You can made a sweet white sauce or custard to pour over your Christmas pudding, or you can make life easy by serving traditional Rum Butter melted over your Christmas pudding. There are many different recipes for Christmas pudding, also known as Plum Pudding. My own recipe from England has grated carrot and grated apple in it to keep it moist.

Here you have a choice of Christmas pudding recipes from some of my favorite cooks.

Ideally Christmas puddings should be made a month or two before Christmas.

Christmas pudding- the perfect match for Rum Butter

This delicious Christmas Pudding photo is thanks to  Jamespeek and flickr creative commons
This delicious Christmas Pudding photo is thanks to Jamespeek and flickr creative commons

Find out more about rum butter and where to buy rum butter. - Get rum butter posted to your home

Buy rum butter and read more about rum butter.

Order Hawkshead Relish Co Rum Butter

More recipes for Cumberland Rum butter - Rum butter recipes.

Rum butter recipes - some great recipes and rum butter treats.

Whitehaven and the Story of Rum - Whitehaven - the port of Cumberland rum butter

Buy at

The historic 18th Century port of Whitehaven on the west coast of Cumbria was once one of the largest and busiest ports on the world.This poster shows a tall ship in Whitehaven harbor.

Tall ships like the one in the picture docked at Whitehaven from the West Indies and Caribbean islands, bringing rum, sugar, and spices to England an Europe.

The Rum Story museum tell you more about the history of rum.

The Beacon Museum is home to local Whitehaven history.

Find out more about Whitehaven here.

Please leave me a message if you have visited this page, with your thoughts about rum butter.

Have you heard of rum butter before? - Do you think you might like rum butter?

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    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 

      6 years ago from Ireland

      Oh wow, I look forward to tasting this wonderful sounding stuff! Roll on Christmas.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I had not heard of rum butter, but would like to try it. Sounds yummy!

    • profile image

      dawngibson lm 

      9 years ago

      Yum! I can't wait to try it.

    • debnet profile image


      9 years ago from England

      Blessed by a Squid Angel ;)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This brings back wonderful memories for me of Christmas in Carlisle visiting my granma's who lived in Morton and Upperby. They always made rum butter. I loved rum butter and was telling someone all about it the other day and here you have the recipe! Fantastic I'll be making some for Christmas.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      whoooooo i was thinking to write something about Christmas , but never ever got such ideas You guys rock

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 

      9 years ago

      I've had brandy butter but not rum butter. I'm definitely making some this year.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I've never heard of it does sound yummy though. Great article

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 

      10 years ago

      This look so warm and rich! I would love to try it! Thank you for the recipe!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      That Christmas pudding looks delicious!!! Would love to try that.


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