Pozegaca Plum Slatko
Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves - Bosnia and Herzegovina
Slatko means “sweet” in Bosnian, but it is also the name of a plum preserve produced in Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia. Today the preserve is made much less than it was in the past. The slatko made in Bosnia-Herzegovina, next to the town of Goradze in the Upper Drina Valley, involves a complex process carried out by hand. The plums are first washed and peeled, before being placed in a saturated solution of water and lime for about 45 minutes. This is done to firm up their flesh and keep the syrup clear. Next, the pits are removed using a steel needle or skewer so that the plums stay whole and keep their shape. The peeled and pitted plums are then boiled in a clear sugar syrup flavored with lemon slices. Variations can be made by flavoring the syrup with cloves, or by adding walnuts or almonds to the pitted plums. The city of Goradze, about 120 kilometers southeast of Sarajevo, straddles the Drina River and is surrounded by a low mountain range that borders of Serbia and Montenegro. After World War II, this formerly agricultural region became home to many weapon and chemical factories. The events of the last decade however caused the destruction of these industries, and unemployment soon soared to over 80 percent. Goradze was also one of the hardest hit regions during the war in the 1990s. The Upper Drina Valley has always been a fruit-producing area, however agriculture became seen as irrelevant for the economy after industrialization. Now, in the aftermath of the war, they are trying to recover the old orchards and plant new ones. While slatko was once only produced in private homes, local women are now producing it for income. Pozegaca plums, a particularly robust variety of Prunus insistitia, are the main ingredient of slatko. In the Upper Drina Valley, the first crop of these plums is eaten directly, while the second crop, harvested towards mid-September, is used for making slatko and slivovitz, a popular distillate. When selecting the plums for Slatko, the women of Goradze look for fully ripe fruits that are small and have a slightly shriveled skin at the stem end that makes them easier to peel. Once preserved, the plums have a wonderful light, creamy texture and a sweet flavor reminiscent of Turkish rose jam that pairs well with various cheeses. Locally, it is eaten alongside kaymak, a rich unpasteurized double cream, with crumbly sheep feta, or by itself in specially designed cups that hold a single whole plum to be served alongside tiny cups of dark Turkish coffee.