Cherry Plum Pickle

Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves - Bulgaria

Typical of the alpine and semi-alpine regions of the Razlog municipality, on the slopes of Mount Rila in southwestern Bulgaria, cherry plum pickle (turshiya ot zeleni dzanki) is made in the months of June and July. These pickles are prepared from unripened green cherry plum (Prunus cerasifera) fruits. The fruits are placed in large, earthen pots called kyupove or chyupove, along with hot peppers, fresh parsley and dill, garlic, and optional horseradish and celery. This is all covered with saltwater to prevent spoilage in the hot summer and autumn months. A wreath made of celery branches is placed over the top of the pickles to stop fungal growth. Pots are kept covered in cool storage places with a constant temperature. Maturing time is about 30 days, and the cherry plum pickles may last for several months without added preservatives. Cherry plums are a typical and very common tree in Bulgaria, both in their wild and cultivated states. The fruits are mostly used for production of plum brandy (slivova rakiya). Green plums are a favored snack and are occasionally used to make cold soups or spring dishes when served along with other greens. These fruits were, and still are, easily accessible and affordable food in poor times. They were particularly important during the World Wars. The fact that this preservation method does not require heat (firewood is another importance resource) was an advantage as well. Today, cherry plum pickles are produced only for personal or family consumption, not for commercial sales. The reason for the disappearance of the cherry plum pickle is not clear, as the fruits are available to be harvested from the wild in large quantities free of charge. A change in consumer preferences is one of the possible causes. Nowadays, consumption of fermented food in Bulgaria is common for the winter season, but there are not many examples of summer pickles. With the industrialization of food production and a year-round supply of fresh produce, the need to prepare homemade preserves has declined, so the future of this typical Bulgarian taste of summer is uncertain.