In tropical or equatorial countries – where we are now – nature thrives all year round and there’s no need to rack your brains to try and keep food for long time. In the Balkans, where winter may get rough, making preserves is a yummy way to enjoy the taste of lush veggies even when the garden is not providing. Ajvar is a pepper/eggplant sauce that is ever present on a Macedonian table for dinner and snacks. So, one more advice for those traveling the region: Don’t miss home-made Ajvar!
We actually never happened to prepare this recipe ourselves because the process is time-demanding, but we had it so many times and loved it so much! It’s also one of the presents – together with wine and other things - we got from the trainees of the Changemaker Course we organized with Sfera Macedonia. And it came with its recipe, which we are now going to share with you.
10 kg of bell peppers
1 kg of carrots
4 big eggplants
200 mL of vinegar
200 mg of sugar
1L of oil
The first day, wash the peppers and grill them on a hot surface (or the barbecue, if you can) on each side. Once they are cooked envelop them in a fabric or something that keeps the heat, so the steam remains within and makes the peeling process easier. Once the peppers are cold enough, peel them and open them to remove the seeds. Hang them on a net or a colander overnight so as to remove the excess of water.
The following day, boil the carrots till tender. Bake the eggplants and peel them. Chop everything and mince it together with the peppers. Pour the oil on a big pot and add the mixture. Heat it up. When it starts frying, steer it continuously so as to avoid burning. Make a mixture of vinegar and sugar and pour it in the pot. Keep heating till reduced to a paste (i.e. the paste should be dense enough so that when you pass with a spoon the surface of the pot stays visible and it is not cover back immediately).
Put in clean glass container when still hot to preserve it for long time.
TIPS TO OTHER LONGITUDES
Best eat over crispy hot bread. The peel of the eggplant, if removed before baking, can be dried or smoked and used later on for flavoring dishes, such as risottos. The preserve can be prepared also as pepper only, eggplant only. But you can use your imagination and fit it to whatever meaty veggie easy available at your longitudes.