Recelj

Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves - Serbia

Recelj is a sweet marmalade traditionally produced in all wine regions of central Serbia: Negotinska Krajina, Knjazevac, Nis, Zupa, Kosovo and Methohija. Recelj has a history in the area that dates back to Roman times.Its ingredients are a mixture of pumpkin, unfermented black grape juice and, optionally, green tomato. All types of sweet black grape are allowed: tamjanika, hamburg, plovdina, etc. The type of pumpkin used is bela ludaja. The juice is cooked slowly for about two hours until it is reduced by half. Then chopped pumpkin is added, and green tomato can be added at this point as well. The mixture is cooked until it has the consistency of honey. The hot cooked mixture should be poured into warm jars and closed tightly to cool down, then stored in cold and dark place. The final product is light, not to sweet and suitable for diabetics since contains only natural fructose. It is also considered to strengthen the body and increase immunity if one teaspoon is taken in the morning; but for the most part it is used as any other jam. A typical batch of recelj is made with 24 liters of grape juice, 3-4 large pumpkins (local white breeds for cooking) and 4-5 kg of green tomato. It is produced mainly in September and October during the grape harvests. Preparing the recelj used to be a big event for children, a tradition which followed the group harvest of the grapes. Today, small farms dedicated to wine production are slowly disappearing due to legislation which is forcing them to register as wineries (which therfore requires a large investment in production materials). Those that still produce some grapes are selling them or producing a minimum quantity for their own purposes. An aging population means that the time consuming preparation process is being carried out less and less frequently. Recelj was once prepared for children, to provide a grape product once the season for the fresh fruit had ended and the majority of grapes were processed into wine, but children have become more and more rare in villages, with young populations migrating to urban areas. In cities, is hard to organize traditional recelj production without access to fresh grape juice.