Winter home-canning (Zimnica)

When the roasted peppers start to smell, I know that summer is coming to an end and that you should slowly start your winter season preparations. Ajvar, pindjur, sauerkraut, cucumbers, carrots, or cauliflower. These are all favorite delicacies that we will eat during the winter days.

As a child, I loved to stare at impressive sight – kitchen shelves decorated with colorful cans filled with the various vegetables that have just been pickled by my grandmother. I remember being very impatient to wait until the time for can-opening comes. Tasty pickled vegetables were always calling me from the shelves!

The history of home canning

Home-canned groceries (Zimnica) are a favorite meal during the winter months, also an opportunity to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables in the middle of winter and to remain healthy! Have you ever wondered how and why home-canned fruits and vegetables (Zimnica) came about? The answer to this question is very simple and it lays in the previous sentence.

Namely, Zimnica is one of the oldest known ways of preserving food, which allowed us to preserve seasonal fruit and vegetable with all of their nutritional properties in post-season.

Records have been preserved that date back to the Ancient Greeks, who describe how Ancient Greeks preserved fruits and vegetables by drying, so for example they developed a system for the conservation of figs. The figs were first kneaded, then formed into a "bread" form, and then dried in the sun.

home-canning, zimnica, Serbian food

How can we preserve food

From the earliest days, people knew that the nutritional properties of foods can be preserved by drying, salting, sweetening, or pickling.

The saying "Summer fruits are the winter joy" is well-known among the people! This saying is a beautiful interpretation of the process of fruit preservation by drying. Namely, many of us will cut the fruit into thinner rings that are being dried after cutting. In this way, in the winter months, we can enjoy dried apples, plums, apricots, peaches, grapes, or pears. By salting, and storing meat at a cold temperature, we can extend its lifespan.

When it comes to pickling, the process is somewhat more complex than simply drying fruits or vegetables. During the change, the taste changes as well as the texture of the food. To pickle food, it is necessary to prepare a certain saline solution in which the food is immersed. If the food is juicy enough sometimes it will be enough to just add salt without adding water.

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What you should use for home-canning

Zimnica, home-canning, Serbian food, Click for Serbia

I can't imagine winter without ajvar. The smell of roasted peppers in autumn is certainly the most memorable moment of the preparations for winter. You can prepare ajvar with eggplant, you can make it mild or spicy, but one thing is for sure ajvar is the central figure of every Zimnica!

Served with or without crushed peppers, used for the preparation of „Podvarak“, in whatever way you want to use it, the unavoidable part of almost every winter lunch is sauerkraut! For that reason, I list it very high, in the second place of my favorite Zimnica dishes!

Thinking about winter lunches almost made me unfairly omit the fruit treats. Apricot jam is on the high third place of the favorite food canned for winter. For this sweet delicacy "pancakes are crying", and for its spread, the slices of toast bread are forming a line!

You can’t consider yourself a pickle lover if you don’t like gherkins. If you ask me, the smaller the gherkins the better. Whatever you like, canned pickles are an indispensable part of every winter!

In the introductory words of this article, I’ve mentioned the colorful jars that adorn the shelves of kitchens and pantries as memorable moments of my childhood. Therefore, I place the combined pickled vegetables in fifth place. Certainly, my favorite contents of these colorful jars are carrots and cauliflower. In those jars, you will often find peppers, green tomatoes, and sometimes onions and garlic.

Zimnica – a healthy winter delicacy

Winter is the period when „food is traditionally enjoyed more“ in these areas. The time of celebrations, New Year's holidays, and Christmas is the time when special attention is paid to all kinds of gourmets and often very fatty and high-calorie food. The implications of such a diet are visible in the weeks and months after. Not only the weight gain but some more serious health issues could be caused by „such a strict diet“.

Fortunately, not all winter food is a tasty enemy that we will fight in the weeks and months after winter. Home-canned food (zimnica), ie pickled foods from pickles are very useful for our body. At a time when our digestive system is under constant pressure from the holiday dishes, it is the pickle that will help you in this battle. Namely, the change in the taste and texture of foods that are pickled is a consequence of the lactofermentation process in which starch and sugars from vegetables are converted into lactic acid.


At the same time, the multiplication of lactobacilli in fermenting vegetables stimulates the production of useful enzymes. The combination of lactic acid and lactobacilli is responsible for regulating blood sugar, lowering blood pressure, stimulating digestive juices, and many other useful processes in our body.

Some foods, such as sauerkraut, are also very rich in vitamins, iron, and fiber. Also, during the holidays and celebrations, the traditional folk remedy for a hangover is brine – saline solution in which sauerkraut or vegetables are pickled. Brine is very rich in vitamin C and represents an extremely powerful ally in the fight against hangovers.


Boun Appetit!

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