Wild Figs Slatko Macedonia
Situated in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, the Republic of Macedonia has for centuries been a treasure house of gastronomic and cultural traditions as well as a crossroads of peoples, religions and cultures.The south-east of the country, from the Macedonian side of Lake Dojran to beyond the River Vardar on the Greek border, has many fig trees. On state land in the municipalities of Bogdanci, Gevgelja, Dojran and Valandovo there are particularly large numbers of wild trees whose green, pear-like fruit hardly ever reaches full maturity.These large quantities of fruit prompted local people to find a way of making it edible and palatable. This led to the recipe for a wild fig preserve called slatko ("sweet" in Macedonian), whose details are carefully kept by the women of the communities.The men have traditionally harvested the fruit, which is done at a very early stage of ripeness. The women deal with the long and laborious process of making the preserve. Figs are first boiled the figs nine times to eliminate the milk. Only then do the fruit release their sugar and can be drained. Separately, sherbet-a syrup of water and sugar-is prepared, and the figs added to it. The resulting slatko is boiled for another hour, then lemon is added to maintain the fig color. When it has cooled and the fruit has absorbed the syrup, the preserve is packed in glass jars. Wild fig slatko has a herbal, spicy fragrance, with slight caramelized notes. On the palate it is sweet, with light astringency at the end. It tastes best when eaten fresh. The old recipe of Grandmother Slavica requres Slak figs to be cut into small pieces and mixed with warm water, flour, oil, sugar and a tablespoon of baking soda. The dough is placed in a pan and cooked for half an hour at 180 C, making the Slatko wild fig cake.
Wild fig slatko is produced at home for family consumption and is not available on the market except for small quantities sold by word of mouth.The strict Macedonian regulations on food products, and lack of legislation providing for traditional products means that it is very difficult to obtain certification to sell this preserve on the market. The objective of the Presidium is to move from a product made exclusively for family use to a quality artisan product. The first step was to create an association to promote wild fig slatko. The producers will now define production rules with the help of local consultants and the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. The Presidium will subsequently set up a production workshop that meets regulations, finalize packaging and promote the product.At the same time Slow Food, supported by members in Macedonia, will continue to work with local authorities so they adopt legislation providing for traditional local products.
Municipalities of Bogdanci, Gevgelja, Dojran and Valandovo
Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy at Ss Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje
Development Center of South-East Region
Faculty of Technology, University of Skopje
tel. +389 70 378282
32 women from Valandovo, Gevgelija, Dojran, Bogdanci Municipalities gathered in Ekorosales Association
Convivium Slow Food Bogdanci
tel. +389 70511593
Tel. +389 78276086