Bulgaria is a country that really takes care of the nature is giving them. From August to October Bulgarians start to prepare the yearly harvest for the winter. To prepare the fruits and vegetables is a traditional way of keeping the food for the winter, this way it both keeps the flavors and the vitamins. Except from being healthy and tasty its also the definition of ecological.
Many people join outside to pick up fruits and vegetables and to prepare them in big pots outside, and has a very social function. As you are walking outside in smaller towns and villages on the countryside you will see many people preparing for the winter and feel the smell of preparation for winter. In order not go bad, Bulgarians are storing the jars with all their prepared food in cold and dark places such as the attic or the cellar. For all this jar-food its very important to clean the jars carefully and warm them first in order to disinfect them from bacteria.
Enjoy the Bulgarian harvest!
Lutenitsa is a vegan relish/chutney made from peppers, carrots, eggplant, onion, garlic, oil, tomatoes, salt and black pepper. Lutenitsa comes from the world Luto which means hot, there are different levels of spiciness of this sauce. Lutenitsa comes in a jar and can be served together with food as a dip sauce, or to be cooked with and it can also work on top of a sandwich. Lutenitsa is a perfect compliment to ketchup. If you are curious on how to prepare your own lutenitsa check this video out for all the information you need.
Here is a pic of an equipment that can be found in almost every Bulgarian home. Its a small vegetable roaster that makes it faster and easier to burn the pepper to peel of the skin to make the lutenitsa.
Kompot is a non-alcoholic beverage that can be served both warm and cold. Kompot is very popular not only in Bulgaria but as well as on the rest of the Balkan, East- and Central Europe. Kompot is a beverage made from one or several fruits, water and some sugar. It contains a lot of vitamins and is a perfect compliment for the winter when there are no fresh fruits in Bulgaria. It is very easy to make kompot, you just choose which fruit/fruits you want to use, boil some water and pour it over the fruits that you have divided into jars, pour over the warm water and let the fruits stay in the water for 15-20 minutes. After that remove the water that by this time have got the flavor from the fruits, heat the fruit water and add a little sugar and pour it over the fruits in the jar. Put the lid on and close it very well, after that let the jars stand upside down for a couple of days and its done.
There is an alternative to this is to boil the fruits together with sugar for about 10-15 minutes in the jar and then add the warm water. Then the process with the lid and standing upside down is the same.
TRUSHIA- PICKLED VEGETABLES
This dish is also very popular all over the East- and Central Europe. It can be served both warm and cold, and many Bulgarians like to have trushia as a meze together with Rakia (The world of Rakija). This is usually made later in the fall when the vegetables are really ready. Just like other food, all Bulgarian family´s have their own recipes and way of making the trushia. The main indigence are however cauliflower, carrots, celery and peppers. If you want you can add garlic and parsley. Cut the vegetables into small pieces, boil them and marinade them in vegetable oil, sugar, salt and apple cider vinegar. Put them in a jar and its ready for the winter!
Pickled gherkins refers to pickled cucumbers and are just like trushia very popular to eat together meanwhile enjoying some rakia. From this pickled gherkins you can make Ruska Salata (recipe will come later I promise). This is a very simplified way of preparing the pickled gherkins. So for you need some fresh small cucumbers, salt, water and vinegar. Start with putting the cucumbers in a saucepan and cover it with the brine. Heat it until its almost boiling (it shall NOT boil) for about 10 minutes, drain and wait for it until it has calm down and then put them into jars, put the spiced vinegar in the saucepan and boil it for a couple of minutes and then cover the cucumbers in the jars.
JAMS & MARMALADE
As the forests and gardens are full of fruits and berry´s what could be better then to collect them and make jam and marmalade from it? Bulgarians are collecting what the fruits and berry´s that are surrender them, it can be everything from figs to bramble. You basically boil the fruits/berry´s together with sugar, and then its ready to be served together with mikitsi, rhodopski kolatsi (Bulgarian Breakfast), pankakes or bread. Bulgaria has unique flavored jam from rose hip and roses (Bulgaria is famous for The Rose Valley and have several products made from roses). As you are travelling around in Bulgaria you will find that no matter where you go you can always buy home made jams and marmalade, and it is absolutely delicious- trust me!