Ajvar DIY

I first came acoss Ajvar in Poland 20 years ago and was impressed with this new rarity. Living now in Croatia “rare” does not come into the description, it’s everywhere, especially at this time of the year when the markets are brimming with red peppers. Wikipedia describes it thus;

“Ajvar pronounced “eye-var” is a pepper-based condiment made principally from red bell peppers and oil. Ajvar is used in the Balkans in Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Serbian, and to a small degree the Slovenian cuisine. In Serbia, it was long known as “Serbian salad” or “Serbian vegetable caviar”. It became a popular side dish throughout Yugoslavia after World War II and is nowadays popular in Southeastern Europe.

Homemade ajvar is made of roasted or cooked peppers. Ajvar can be consumed as a bread spread or as a side dish. Ajvar has few variations. Ajvar containing tomato is called pindjur and if it contains eggplant it is called malidzano.”

Despite the fact that the supermarket shelves are full of the stuff almost all of the brands have sugar added so we decided to make some ourselves.  Here’s how;

Buy a load of red bell peppers and aubergines, (one aubergine for every ten peppers) wash them and cut out any imperfections. Then make a slit along one side of each pepper and place on baking paper. Then put in an hot oven at 250C and roast until the skins start to blacken.
Turn the peppers once to ensure an even roasting. Do the same with the aubergines though they do not need slicing.
Take the roasted vegetables and put in a large pot with a towel over the top, add more, and leave to cool slowly for a few hours.
Carefully extract the seeds and peel the skin away from the flesh of the aubergines and peppers. Your fingers might feel irritated by handling a lot of peppers this is normal. Discard the skin and seeds.
Take the flesh of the peppers and aubergines and put them through an old school mincing machine. Ours is called a “Fleisch hammmer” on the box but now its a vegan one!
Get a large flat bottomed pan and add a thick covering of cooking oil to it. Heat till hot and then add the minced vegetables. At this stage you can add spices to taste. We suggest a bit of salt and a little bit of vinegar.
Colourful eh!
Stir the mixture constantly to avoid burning. When it begins to thicken remove from heat.
You need a load of clean jam jars, only ones with metal lids will do. In to these you spoon the Ajvar till it is almost to the top. Firmly close the lids and place on a tray. When all are done put in the oven for an hour at 100C and then turn oven off and leave the jars inside for 12 hours -do not open the oven door. These jars shoukd then be good for many months till opened.