Pozegaca Plum Slatko Bosnia and Herzegovina
Slatko means “sweet” in the Bosnian language, but it is also the name of a preserve made of plums produced in Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia, though not so widespread as in the past. The Slatko made in Bosnia-Herzegovina, next to the town of Goradze in the Upper Drina Valley, requires a complex preparation. The whole process, from peeling to packing, is handmade. The plums are first washed and then peeled; then, the peeled plums are placed in a saturated solution of water and lime for about 45 minutes 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 keep their shape and stay whole. The peeled and pitted plums are boiled in a clear sugar syrup flavoured with lemon slices. The conserve may also be varied by flavouring the syrup with cloves, or by adding walnuts or almonds into the pitted plums, according to the maker’s recipe.
The city of Goradze, about 120 kilometres southeast of Sarajevo, straddles the Drina River and is surrounded by a low mountain range that touches the border of Serbia and Montenegro. After II World War, this formerly agricultural region became a choice spot for big industrial complex manufacturing weapons and chemical products. The last decade events 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 '90s. The Upper Drina Valley has always been a fruit-producing area, but the role of agriculture has become quite 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 produced only in private homes, local women are now producing it for income. Pozegaca plums, a particularly robust local ecotype of Prunus insistitia, are the main ingredient of Slatko. In the Upper Drina Valley, the first crop of Pozegaca plums is eaten out of hand, while the second crop, harvested towards mid-September, is used for making Slatko and Slivovitz, a popular distillate. When picking the plums for Slatko, the women of Goradze look for fully ripe fruits that are small and have slightly shrivelled skin at the stem end, which makes them easier to peel.
Once preserved, the plums have a wonderful light, creamy texture and a sweet flavour reminiscent of Turkish rose jam that pairs well with various cheeses. Locally, it is eaten alongside kaymak, 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.
Pozegaca Plum Slatko is produced by a group of women who have worked with several older women in Goradze to find the most traditional recipe. It is cooked at home over a wooden fire with the Pozegaca plums grown in that area. The producers – gathered in the Emina association – have created a small workshop. In 2008, with the assistance of a food technologist of the UN Development Programme, they set the recipe parameters to ensure a consistent production quality. These guidelines have also been included in the Presidium specifications adopted in 2009.
The Slow Food Foundation is helping the Emina association increase the Slatko production and sales by involving new producers and farmers (to look after the old trees and to plant new ones). Support is also provided by raising consumers’ awareness on the top quality product by small producers. For this reason, the Presidium contributes to the organization of the annual Ustikolina Taste Festival whose aim is to promote local food products.
Upper Drina River Valley, Ustikolina (Goradze)
Agropodrinje Cooperative, Goradze
Presidium supported by
Tuscany Regional Authority
11 processors and two growers of Goradze plums, joined in the Emina association
Tel. +387 6193648
tel. +387 61 936 480
tel. +387 38 228 256 (ufficio)