Nikola Jankovic, a development engineer at Bakina Tajna, reveals how factory-made ajvar may be called homemade at all, whether it’s a marketing trick or a truth, what the entire production process of Bakina Tajna’s ajvar looks like and what makes it so special.
Ajvar is one of those specialties cooked exclusively in family kitchens for ages, and this tradition has been retained in many households to date. Not without reason. If you ask fans which ajvar is the best, they will say to you at once – homemade, mom or grandma’s one. Indeed, it is just ajvar made according to the traditional recipe also implying dedicate and long preparation that has this characteristic, irresistible taste, smell, flavor and texture that we all love so much. It is therefore not unusual for the controversy to arise as to how ajvar coming from the factory man can be called homemade.
Luckily for all of us, from the sovereign rule of grandma’s kitchen ajvar has in the meantime moved to shelves in stores. So all of us who do not have enough time or possibilities to cook it at home or just want to supplement annual stock of these delicious jars now have the opportunity to enjoy the unique taste of our favorite ajvar. Of course, provided that ajvar from the store fits completely with its taste, smell, flavor and texture with the homemade ajvar, the one from grandma’s kitchen. Because genuine ajvar fans know very well how to distinguish the diverse offer of ajvar from the store. This is precisely why the production of large quantities of ajvar in factory conditions that would preserve all the characteristics of the homemade one was a great, but not an impossible challenge, as explained to us at Bakina Tajna.
How is it that the factory-produced ajvar may be called homemade at all?
Producing genuine homemade ajvar, with taste, structure and aroma we remember from grandma’s kitchen, was a great challenge. Nevertheless, with the traditional recipe and the highest quality ingredients, as well as with the help of hi-tech solutions, we managed to pass these well-known childhood tastes to factory-produced ajvar.
What is the difference between Bakina Tajna ajvar and the one made at home?
The difference is in cooking conditions. At Bakina Tajna, we strictly control the conditions during production, and every stage of the process is paid a great attention. All of our kinds of ajvar are cooked slowly, at moderate temperatures and in vacuum conditions, in order to fully preserve aromas and nutrients, and obtain a superior-quality product. At home, for example, ajvar is cooked in an open pot, which may result in loss of aroma and nutrients.
How does the process of making a jar of ajvar look like?
For every kilogram of ajvar, we need 4 kilograms of the best red pepper, and we use the best local variety grown especially for ajvar. Peppers go through all stages of processing, as at home: washing, grilling, cleaning, cooking, packaging, pasteurization, with all stages of the process being strictly controlled.
What is the most important thing for quality ajvar?
First of all, the best variety of red peppers, known as “Kurtovska Kapija”. After careful selection, peppers are baked to get a recognizable smoke flavor and prepare for further processing. It is very important that peppers are well-cleaned from burnt parts and seeds before cooking. The next important item is the recipe inherited from our grandmas.
What gets the greatest attention during the production and why?
We pay the greatest attention primarily to the selection of raw materials and to the proper management of all processes, and, last but not least, to safety. In this way, we can offer all ajvar fans a natural, tasty and safe product.
Is it important whether peppers are chopped or milled for ajvar, grilled or treated in some way, for example, baked in the oven; and to which extent?
It is very important that peppers are partly chopped, and partly milled, in order to achieve the best ratio and develop all the richness of taste. These visible pepper pieces are the favorite of the buyers of our ajvar, and they are the ones that distinguish us from the other varieties of ajvar on the market. When it comes to baking the pepper, we prefer grilling because in this way the best taste of the ajvar is achieved.
What can we do at home to make ajvar we cooked ourselves last longer and not get spoiled once we open the jar?
After opening, it is important to keep the contents of the jar from contamination. For example, don’t let crumbs of bread or cheese, or water into the jar, use only dry and clean kitchen utensils.
Of course, the best way to make sure Bakina Tajna ajvar has just the right and well-known aroma of home-made ajvar is to taste it. As a side dish or an ingredient to a delicious meal, or simply, as we prefer more often, with a piece of fine home-made bread for complete enjoyment.