Meet Mr. Ajvar (Chutney)!

Making ajvar in Croatia is a unique ritual. It begins in autumn, when entire families spend a day cooking their favorite relish – a meal full of vitamins to be eaten till spring.

Ajvar Day is when we forget everything else – we are committed to ajvar 100%, but while ajvar is cooking, we use that time to hang out with friends and family, barbecue, sing, dance, taste wine and local beer. Croats are champions in combining pleasant and useful, so Ajvar Day is like a holiday to us! :)

– red bell peppers (about 2 1/2-3 pounds)
– eggplants (about 1 pound)
– 3-5 cloves garlic
– 1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
– salt

1. Peppers and eggplants need to be washed before you roast them or grill them both sides. When they are roasted, put them in a bowl and cover to remove their skin with ease.

2. We recommend roasting and peeling peppers simultaneously – while one part is roasting, use the time to prepare and mash the other. Tip: Use a tool such as a meat grinder to do this faster.

3. When you have roasted and mashed all the vegetable, put it in a large pot and start cooking. At first just add a few cloves of garlic, and then add vinegar, oil (and chili peppers if you want your ajvar to be hot). But in the beginning just let it simmer while constantly stirring with a large spoon.

4. The most important thing when making the ajvar is stirring. Ajvar is hard to make, and it will take you hours, but the longer you cook it and stir it, the tastier and less perishable ajvar will be.

5. While ajvar is cooking, prepare your jars. Wash them and put them in the oven to sterilize.

6. When ajvar is cooked (after approx. 4 h or more), put it in jars. While you are putting it into a pot with one hand and spoon, you need to push it down to squeeze all the air out of the jar. When you fill the jar to the top, take one piece of plastic wrap soaked in vinegar and place it over the jar, just under a lid.

7. Wrap filled jars in a blanket to cool gradually. Your ajvar will be preserved and ready to ‘hibernate’.