Few things are as controversial as ajvar. Serbs consider Ajvar a Serbian specialty, Macedonians claim that this salty delicacy originated in Macedonia, while Slovenians try to appropriate this product and present it on the market as their national specialty. Nevertheless, the people of Leskov responded in time to protect their ajvar by geographical origin under the name “Leskovački ajvar”, so that it can legitimately be represented as a Serbian brand.
Whatever the truth, one thing is certain – precisely because ajvar is one of the tastiest specialties, everyone would like to be proud of it. Certainly, we can proudly say that ajvar is above all a Balkan specialty. We can accept variations of ajvar, but feel free to say that it is Serbian recipe for ajvar something really special, which is why we consider it a national specialty.
And of course, when we talk about that excellent ajvar whose taste is irreplaceable and completely unique, we are talking exclusively about domestic ajvar. As with all other domestic products, the industry has created a version that can be bought in markets, but their production is drastically different from the production of real domestic ajvar with completely natural ingredients and made in a natural way, by hand. Purchased ajvar can’t even come close to domestic ajvar in terms of taste and quality, and that’s why everything we’ll talk about further in the text refers to homemade ajvara real specialty from our climate.
Types of ajvar according to ingredients and method of preparation
It is known to be the main ingredient of ajvar paprika. Paprika is the essence of ajvar, everything else can only be added for a small variation of taste. One of the additives that can often be found in recipes is blue paltijan. Although there are conflicting opinions as to whether ajvar made in this way is really real, we think that you should not worry and that there is no such thing as “real” and “unreal” ajvar. The recipe can be adapted to taste and preferences as long as the key elements of the recipe remain the same.
Ajvar can be hot or sweet, also depending on the taste of the one who makes it. Spicy level we can determine the amount of hot peppers added, from extremely hot to slightly hot.
As far as the way of processing peppers is concerned, there are two most famous ways of preparing ajvar – roasting peppers and marinating peppers. Both methods are equally represented in many regions throughout Serbia, but it seems that one of them still leads the way as a favorite – roasting peppers. According to connoisseurs of preparing the most delicious ajvar, this method of processing gives this specialty a special taste and stands out for its delicate characteristics.
What is needed for a good ajvar?
Peppers are the basic ingredient of ajvar, its main part, and they carry the whole flavor of this specialty. The quality of ajvar directly depends on the type of paprika. So be prepared to look for good peppers, because this is the first step that must be fulfilled if you want your ajvar to be of top taste and quality, and with the little secrets of the great masters of this specialty, you will know what kind of pepper you are looking for.
This pepper is the best for preparing ajvar
The most famous type of pepper that is most often chosen for ajvar is Kurtovka. Choose red pieces, flat and long, of regular shape. It should be meaty, but as dry as possible, i.e. there must not be much water in the fleshy part of the pepper. The drier the pepper, the better the final result, so choose each piece of pepper carefully, evaluate it carefully before buying.
It is important to choose high-quality peppers not only for their taste, but also for the preparation, which is already demanding enough – a poor-quality, irregular-shaped pepper with a high percentage of water is more difficult to peel, and when you consider that you have a large amount of pepper in front of you which needs to be peeled, you understand another reason why you should not choose cheap but quality. For kilogram of ajvar three to three and a half kilos of paprika are needed.
We advise you not to buy peppers in sacks and boxesand, although they may be cheaper. Although you may see healthy and beautiful peppers on the surface, it is very likely that there are lumpy, small, and maybe green/overripe peppers waiting for you inside. It will be more worthwhile for you to take the time and money to find the perfect peppers for your ajvar, than to buy bad material, and bad material cannot produce a good product.
When you choose good and quality ingredients, you have already done half the work. Of course, we know that a long preparation process awaits you because ajvar is one of the most demanding foods when it comes to preparation, which requires time, money and dedication. But, after everything is finished and the ajvar is on your table, already at the first bite you will be grateful to yourself for all the effort you put into its preparation, because it is really worth it.
Roasting and juicing peppers for ajvar
Another important thing to mention is related to the preparation process itself. Housewives in Serbia and beyond who have many years of experience in making this “vegetable caviar” adhere to the criteria and a proven good method of preparation. Along with the correct selection of peppers, which need to be roasted and drained well afterwards, and before the further stages of the ajvar-making process, one of the main criteria for a good and high-quality ajvar is cooking on a wood-burning stove.
It is the traditional way of preparing ajvar, the way our great-grandmothers prepared this specialty when there were not as many options as today. However, their method still survives as the best, the highest quality, the only true way to prepare real ajvar – on a wood stove, ideally on the popular “Smederevac”. Ajvar connoisseurs claim that there is no tastier ajvar than the one prepared in this ancient way, which gives ajvar a special charm and unique taste.
The famous ajvar from Leskovac – the best recipe for top taste
This ajvar is widely known for its quality and divine taste. Everyone who makes this specialty in Leskovac and its surroundings has the recipe for ajvar in their little finger. Of course, ajvar from Leskovac, like all others, can have different variations and adjustments depending on the taste of the one who makes it. We are certainly passing on the recipe that housewives from this region have been jealously guarding for years.
- roasted red peppers 12 kg
- 1 l of oil
- 6 spoons of salt
- 6 spoons of sugar
- 4 spoons of essence
Before preparing ajvar itself, it should prepare the jars into which you will pour the prepared ajvar. To make sure that you have eliminated all the germs that can be found there, sterilize the lids of the jars by cooking them in boiling water for 10-15 minutes. In this way, you will be sure that your jars are completely clean and ready for ajvar. Before filling sterilized jars with ajvar, you can wipe the lid and top of the jar with alcohol, in order to destroy all potential bacteria.
Cooking ajvar from Leskovac
Roast the pepper, then drain well. The process of juicing paprika is one of the most important, and it is necessary to drain the pepper well before the next stage of preparation. To make sure the pepper is well drained, leave it to drain overnight. The next day, peel the roasted pepper, remove the seeds, and then grind it with a blender or a meat grinder. It is recommended to grind it so that the pieces are not completely ground (mashed), but a little larger, because that way you can feel the full flavor of the paprika.
After your peppers are ready, mix the oil, sugar, salt and essence in a large saucepan and cook over low heat until completely combined. After the mixture has set appropriate texture, add roasted and ground pepper. Next comes the most demanding stage in the process of preparing ajvar – mixing. It is necessary to mix first slowly and weakly, then constantly and a little stronger, on a stronger fire, and this process should last about an hour. Ajvar is necessary to harness until all the juice and mixture has a compact texture, good density and completely combined ingredients. You can check if the ajvar is fried enough by running a soldering iron along the bottom of the pot and if a trace remains, it means that the excess water has evaporated and your ajvar is ready.
Another important part of the process of preparing ajvar is i canning. Proper canning of ajvar is, in addition to the health aspect, also important from the financial aspect. If you do not preserve ajvar properly, spoilage is completely uncertain and the only thing left for you is to throw away jars of ajvar in which you have invested not only effort, but also money. To avoid this, we will show you how to properly preserve ajvar in a simple and healthy way and save it from spoilage and decay. without the use of preservatives.
Namely, put the jars that you previously washed in the oven by 100°C to warm up and leave them to stand for 15 minutes. After that, take the jars out of the oven, fill them with ajvar evenly, so as to fill all the air cavities. When you have filled the jars with ajvar, put them back in the oven to heat at 100°C for 15 minutes, without the lid. When you take them out, you’ll notice that it’s caught goods crust on top of the heat.
Finally, put the pre-washed ones lids on the jar, close tightly and repeat the process – put the jars closed in the oven at 100°C to heat for 15 minutes. When you take them out after 15 minutes, the process is complete and your ajvar is preserved from spoilage by completely natural methods.
When you have prepared the ajvar and taken all the precautions described to preserve its quality, all you have to do is enjoy this salty delicacy of superior and unique taste, a favorite in our climate!
Source: AGROmedia by www.agromedia.rs.
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