Wild Fig Slatko

Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves - North Macedonia

Situated in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, the Republic of Macedonia has long been a treasure house of gastronomic and cultural traditions, as well as a crossroads of peoples, religions and cultures. In the southeast of the country, from the Macedonian side of Lake Dojran to beyond the River Vardar on the Greek border, you can find many fig trees. On state land in the municipalities of Bogdanci, Gevgelja, Dojran and Valandovo there is a particularly large number of wild trees whose green, pear-like fruit hardly ever reaches full maturity. It was this large quantity of fruit that prompted local people to find a way of making it edible and palatable, resulting in a recipe for a wild fig preserve called Slatko ("sweet" in Macedonian). The local women carefully preserve the details of this recipe, along with the long and laborious process of making it. Men have traditionally dealt with harvesting the fruit, which is done as soon as it starts to ripen. To make the preserve, the figs are first boiled nine times to eliminate the milk. Only then do the fruits release their sugars and can be drained. Separately, a syrup of water and sugar is prepared, to which the figs are then added. The resulting Slatko is boiled for another hour, before lemon is added to maintain the fig color. When it has cooled and the fruit has absorbed the syrup, the preserve is added to glass jars. Wild Fig Slatko has a herbal, spicy fragrance, with slight caramelized notes. It is sweet on the palate, with light astringency at the end. It tastes best when eaten fresh. A number of other recipes also exist, for example the Wild Fig Slatko cake of Grandmother Slavica. To make the cake, the figs are cut into small pieces and mixed with warm water, flour, oil, sugar and a tablespoon of baking soda. The dough is then placed in a pan and cooked for half an hour at 180°C.