Prepare Your Pantry for the Winter

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Late summer / early fall is the perfect time for the housewives across the country to gather the riches of nature, in order to preserve it for the winter months. Whether it’s pickles, vegetable stew, jams and compotes, all of them have recipes and secrets well-kept in the family, but also considerable resources and effort.

Among the most popular Romanian dishes prepared during autumn there are:

1. Zacusca
“Zacusca” is a Slavic origin word with the meaning of “snack” or “appetizer”. Zacusca is a great garnish for steak, but can be eaten as a separate dish. Classic vegetable stew recipe includes tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, onions, oil and spices, but many housewives add peppers (green peppers or fat), carrots and broth. Although it is a stew consisting only of vegetables, zacusca is considered a fat, heavy dish, because of the large amounts of oil, but it is quite necessary in the winter, when the body starts having vitamins and minerals deficiencies.

If you’ve been craving for a homemade zacusca, but you didn’t have time to prepare it, come to Vatra Restaurant for a hefty slice of homemade bread with freshly made zacusca. We also have eggplant salad!

Pantry at Vatra Restaurant in Bucharest

2. Broth and canned tomatoes. Tomatoes are tasty, healthy and very often used in the kitchen, in various recipes, so broth and canned tomatoes have become indispensable in the pantry during winter, often added in sauces, stews, soups or salads. In addition, lycopene, the carotenoid found in tomatoes, is beneficial to the body because of its antioxidant properties, and has a big role in preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease.

3. Jam and compote – the winter desserts, simply because you cannot miss a cold winter evening in the company of a compote bowl or a hot cup of tea with a slice of bread covered in jam. The jam recipes also have little secrets, as they are inherited from previous generations of housewives, with all sorts of natural spices for extra flavor: vanilla, cinnamon, anise seeds, walnuts or almonds.

4. Pickles. There is no genuine hard working Romanian man who would not preserve at least one jar of cucumbers, cabbage or tomatoes for the winter. Whether you prefer the vinegar pickling or the salt pickling, such foods are beneficial to the human body because they naturally develop probiotics that boost the immune system and protect the colon. In addition, any potato stew or steak is more delicious with a pickle aside.

Queens Jam at Vatra Restaurant in Bucharest

5. Preserved vegetables for the soups. You only need peppers, tomatoes, carrots, parsley, parsnip, celery, salt, herbs, water to get a good mix of vegetable to add to soups during winter. Vegetables are very appreciated for their nutritional value, so this vegetable mix for soups is easily digested, so it is recommended especially for people suffering from their stomach. It also improves the blood circulation.

6. Frozen vegetables / fruits can encompass up to 80% of active substances, so you can enjoy their minerals, vitamins and enzymes all winter long. Just cut them into small pieces to optimize the space in the freezer, and put them in separate bags for consumption. Then vacuum and freeze! Canned fruits and vegetables are a so much healthier alternative to those off the season found in supermarkets.

7. Dried vegetables / fruit – a simple and effective method of preservation, if used correctly, is the dehydration of vegetables and fruits. Just put them on wooden or plastic grills, exposed them to sun light and heat, away from dust and insects, and after 10-14 days you can store the dried vegetables in your pantry. Fruits and vegetables that can be dried are apricots, plums, apples, tomatoes, peppers, garlic etc. and can be eaten as they are, dehydrated, in nuts and seeds mixes for guests, as a healthy alternative to supermarket snacks, or they can be rehydrated to be cooked in various ways.

We wish you a plentiful pantry!

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