Saturday, May 16, 2015


Traditional Serbian Rakija. (photo:Rana Jones)

We are watching our kajsija (kye-see-uh) trees for signs of a good harvest this summer. Kajsija is similar to apricots. It's a small, orange-colored fruit and is used a lot in making rakjia (rah-kee-uh).
Kajsija is similar to apricots.When ripe, they fall from the tree.(photo:Rana Jones)

Rakjia is a fruit brandy that is said to be "the national drink of Serbia". They're pretty well known for this stuff. In fact, it is perfectly legal to make it in your back yard. It's not legal to sell it but you can make all the liquor you want for yourself. Of course, it is shared among friends and family. If you go visit someone, don't be surprised if you are offered a shot. Rakija making is a very old tradition. Different fruits can be used such as apple, pears or plums.
Ready to harvest Kajsija. (photo:Rana Jones)

Every summer and fall, we get enough kajsija fruit in our back yard to make a batch of rakija.
This spring, the trees already have nice little green fruits on the tree, but with the terrible winds we have had lately, many have fallen to the ground. That's not good.
The ones that do manage to hang onto the tree, when they ripen, they fall to the ground. Those are gathered up daily in a bucket and then you have to take the pits out. Depending on how ripe they are, this can be a little gross. I would estimate that half of them have a worm living inside so I'm not fond of pitting those really smushy kajsija. I saw someone once, to freak me out I guess, eat one of the worms.
It looks pretty nasty while it's fermenting in the barrel for several weeks. You have to give it a stir every now and then. (photo:Rana Jones)

After they are pitted, they are dumped into a 55-gallon type plastic barrel where they start to ferment. Sugar is added at some point. Then when it's fermented, it has to be checked by some person that has a special instrument to test it. Everyone knows someone with this instrument. It has to be made within 24 hours of that "ready point" and that's when you ring up the guy with the still to come over and start making the rakija. Everyone has this guy on speed dial. He has the still set up on a trailer which he pulls with his auto (our guy has the very awesome Yugo) to your home, very early in the morning. He builds a fire and within a few hours, there is a bucket of clear-colored alcohol which is the rakija. It is tested to make sure it was properly distilled (it's dangerous if you don't test it), and it is also graded. The quality of the fruit is important for a good grade of rajkija.
The still used to make the rajkija. (photo:Rana Jones)
Finished product. (photo:Rana Jones)



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