Ajvar is Serbian traditional and one of the most loved red pepper preserves. It’s a lot of work and it takes days to prepare, so usually the whole family works together. In my opinion, ajvar is the king of preserves so, in the end, all the hard work most certainly pays of.

My family uses the following recipe for generations.

Red Peppers

Day one

Take 30 kg ripe sweet red peppers. The species we use is called The elephant ear. They should be big, feel heavy in your hand and straight (this will ease the roasting and peeling). Wash and wipe them.

Roasting Red Peppers

Traditionally, peppers are roasted on top of wooden stoves that were in a special “summer kitchen”. Summer kitchen is built separately from the main house to ease the cooking process to the housewives during summer.

Roasting Red Peppers

Roast peppers on all sides.

Ajvar, preparation

Roasted pepper should be placed in a pot and covered. After each pot is filled to the top wrap it into sheet to preserve the heat. The peppers should be left like that overnight.

Day Two

Ajvar, preparation

Before you start peeling each one should be cut at the top and the juice drained. Peel the peppers. After a whole night in the covered pots, skins should come off easily.

Ajvar, preparation

De-seed the peeled peppers. Do not wash them! The juices and the most of the good taste will come off! Be patient :)

Ajvar, preparation

Roast 5 kg eggplants in the oven. They should look like on the picture above. After they’re done, put them in pots and cover them. No need to wait too long, you should be able to peel them soon after. When all the peppers are peeled and de-seeded and eggplants peeled, grind everything using meat grinder.

Ajvar, preparation

Take a large pot, pour oil on the bottom (just enough to cover it) and put all the minced vegetables inside. Pour about 800 ml oil inside and stir everything.

Ajvar, preparation

Ajvar should be cooked for hours. Stir often so it doesn’t burn. You can test if it’s done by placing a small amount onto a plate. If there is liquid dropping when you turn the plate, it should be cooked more.

Ajvar, preparation

This is the texture after two hours of cooking.

Ajvar, preparation

When it’s nearly done, you should start heating the jars. On wooden stove, place them on the part that is farthest from the heat source. Jars need to be preheated so they don’t crack when you pour hot ajvar in them.

Ajvar, preparation

At the very end, season with two handfuls of salt. Taste and add more if you feel like it. Some people also like to put a couple of pressed garlic cloves and a teaspoon of white vinegar. Also, it is often made with a small amount of hot peppers to spice it up.

And just in case, add 5 g of sodium benzoate. This is not necessary but it will help to preserve ajvar during winter.

Ajvar, preparation

Pour finished ajvar into hot jars. Jars should be placed onto some wooden board to prevent the cracking.

Ajvar, preparation

Heat oven to 70°C. Turn it off and then place filled jars inside. Leave it like that overnight.

Day Three

Ajvar, preparation

Heat some oil. Pour on top of each jar. In the old times, people used to melt pork fat and top the jars with that. Before they ate ajvar, they’d discard the fat. When using oil, you can discard it, or stir it into the rest of the ajvar before eating. It should be stored in a dark, cold and dry place and it can last like that the whole season. After you open a jar, you should keep it in the fridge.

Serbian Sandwich

Ajvar is usually eaten as a spread, over a slice of bread. But, really, possibilities are endless.

Ajvar Salad

My father remembers that his grandparents used to make a salad by putting chopped garlic, some oil and white vinegar into ajvar. Tried it today for the first time and it’s delicious!

Note: This is my entry for the first challenge of Project Food Blog by Foodbuzz.


  1. Nista lepse od domaceg ajvara :) Ova fotka pecenih paprika ce me proganjati nocas :)))

  2. Fantastic post! I've had the purchased version of this and loved it, but of course the traditionally made type is sure to be much better. I loved seeing how it's done in your family.

  3. Ajvar is one of my favorite things on earth, but I have never had it homemade. This looks wonderful.

  4. Reading this whole process was so interesting. I wish I could taste it now. And the wooden stove is kind of cool since I've never seen anything like it before.

  5. I love it!!! I've never made it myself, but definitely eat it out of a jar. Great on sandwiches, in pasta, or even added to soups.

  6. Wow… what a beautiful post. The photos capture the process perfectly, and I can practically taste the red pepper from here! I will have to try making ajvar before the summer is over.

  7. Odličan post, Marija! Sada mogu svakoga da uputim na tvoj blog, kad pitaju za ajvar! Malo sam nostalgična, jer nisam tamo sad kad je sezona. Mogu samo da zamislim taj miris, kad se paprika peče u velikim količinama.Da, ta zimska salata od ajvara sa belim lukom je odlična. Moja mama zato nikad nije stavljala beli luk u ajvar, samo so.Baš si me dirnula:)

  8. I bought that thing in a jar, I think it was a Bulgarian import. I loved it. I didn't realize there is so much involved into making this.BTW, I love your blog.

  9. This is great¡¡ wonderful post and wonderful recipe… many thanks for sharing.Never tried Ajvar, but I think I will make it soon, it really looks fantastic and you´re right, possibilities are endless.Mt best wishes from Mallorca, Spain.

  10. Wooow! This is looking very delicious! I love the combination of red paprika and eggplants. I Turkey we eat also a lot roasted red peppers and eggplants. Great post!

  11. odlicne fotografije i objasnjenje.ajvar radim slicno ali izbjegavam konzervanse. ove godine jos nisam radila, bas zato jer mi je nedostajalo vremena. ali obicno uzimam pola kolicine koju si ti uzela :). bas si bila marljiva :)))

  12. Страхотно , прекрасни снимки и много вкусна рецепта ! :)Поздрави от България ! :)

  13. Ovo je pravi ajvar od pečenih paprika i patlidžana. Mi smo uvijek ovako radili bez dodavanja konzervansa. U današnje vrijeme često se radi ajvar od kuhanih paprika i patlidžana koji je isto dobar ali ovome nije ni do koljena.Prekrasno sve, majstorice!

  14. Kao i po obicaju FANTASTICAN post i jos lepse fotografije! Jako mi je drago da sa drugima delis nasa tradicionalna Srpska jela. Za vas trud i odlican blogg na mome vas ceka jedna nagrada.Puno pozdrava!

  15. I usually buy this in a jar and enjoy it very much…especially when I see how much work is involved. I admit that if I'd have more time I would follow your amazing recipe. Very well done and enjoyed your post very much ;o)Flavourful wishes,Claudia

  16. This looks like Romanian "zacusca". The only difference is that we put also onion.Good luck with the contest!

  17. Ajme kakav savršen post popraćen savršenim fotografijama. Fascinira me ovaj starinski način izrade ajvara. Sama ga nikad nisam radila, a i nemam uvjete za to ipak znam da ovom ajvaru ništa nije ravno. :)

  18. Odlično dočaran utisak koji priprema ajvara donosi. To je glavni razglog zašto ga redovno pripremam. Ima tu neke neobične priče i sam miris paprika je nešto što oplemenjuje dane kada se prirpema zimnica:)

  19. Wonderful post Marija! I have tried to make it with red bell peppers but the flavor of the ajvar is not the same as the imported one. Do you know the biological name of the peppers you used? I would love to buy a few seeds and grow them here in Texas. Thanks again.

  20. This sounds like one delicious, multi-purpose spread! I love roasted red peppers and think it would be so great to have this on hand all through the winter!Thanks for stopping by my blog! I voted for you on foodbuzz as well!

  21. Odličan ti je recept a spravljanje istog na tako klasičan domaći način je i neprocijenjivo vrijedan. Ja sam oduševljena i pravi ljubitelj ajvara!

  22. I love this stuff! I buy it from my Croatian butcher, but I have never made it myself. I'll have to give that a try!Fabulous photos. Good luck! You got my vote!LL

  23. Hello, I voted for you. I love your blog and the photos are so cool. I wish you all the best and good luck. :D

  24. Fantastic recipe! Love how you documented the process, made it seem so simple even though there is a lot of work involved. I am going to have to try this sometime.

  25. Love this. Personal, looks amazing, and what wonderful pictures and instructions. Voted for you on Sunday. Good luck!

  26. Paula, kajmak is made by collecting milk skin. You need fresh, unprocessed milk, just milked from the cow.

  27. What a fantastic blog, Marija! I absolutely loved the idea of ajvar. It is something between the eggplant caviar and the hor red pepper spread we make in Azerbaijan, but still different. I am saving the recipe! And voting for you all the way!

  28. oh-oh-oh, i love ajvar… i have made some at home but the recipe was a lot simpler. also, i made mine of regular bell peppers and they really don't taste like the ones you were using. great pictures!

  29. Marija, I'm SO glad you posted this. I made Ajvar last yearhttp://spaininiowa.blogspot.com/2009/10/preserving-peppers.html but I adored seeing how your family has been making it for generations! I do have a question, how do you get the jars to seal? Are you using regular canning jars with lids and bands? Does the heat make the lids pop? Thanks so much for this Marija, I ADORE your blog and voted for you!!!

  30. Great post and photos – voted! I'm excited to learn some Serbian recipes from you. Good luck in PFB!

  31. I am Armenian and we make something similar to this. I am so glad to come across your post!

  32. Délicieusement et magnifiquement bien réalisé… je suis conquiseJe te souhaite un très beau jeudiValérie

  33. Hi marija!I loved reading every bit of this. So interesting, and beautiful photos. The best part of this PFB is finding wonderful blogs!All the best, Fiona

  34. Thank you, thank you for this post. I love Ajvar but have only tried to make it a few times, and then it came out a bit watery. With your tips and tricks, (meat grinder – not food processor!), I am sure this years batch will be perfect. I LOVE your blog, it helps keep us Serbs that are scattered world wide connected to our roots. Thank you. (And YES I voted!)

  35. I am Romanian and I have just discovered your blog. I am really impressed of it, because you have so interesting recipes and astonishing pictures. I am a fan already. The Romanian version of Ajvar is called ”zacusca”. We usually make it the same way as you, Serbian people, cook it, but sometimes we add mushrooms, beans and even fish.

  36. Mmm, what a lovely post–all your photos are beautiful! We spent this last weekend making Ajvar here in Skopje…now we know it's fall!

  37. volim ajvar i to naravno domaci. Medjutim nissam ga jela gotovo 5 godina.Svakako cu poruciti mami da mi ostavi neku teglu jer ona to svake godine pravi

  38. my mom makes this using red bell peppers and no egg plant i think its way better without the eggplant,spread on bread top with crumbled feta cheese

  39. I love Ajvar-my parents are from Macedonia and we make it often! Love you blog as well.

  40. Just beautiful! My boyfriend taught me to make Ajvar and I absolutely love it. I would like to get seeds for the traditional variety of pepper used. Do you know of a source of seeds for “the elephant ear” pepper variety? What is the Serbian word for “the elephant ear”? Such a lovely pepper. Thanks for posting such a wonderful blog.

  41. Divno ne moze biti ljepse objasnjeno a fotografije tek veoma fascinantno ,svaka cast .Uradili ste savrsen posao
    Srecno .

  42. I made ajvar this fall. Our traditional (Romanian) recipe also calls for onions, tomatoes or tomato juice and sometimes bay leaves, in addition to the peppers and eggplant. Of course I remember it tasting much better when I live back home, but the ingredients were probably fresher and grown differently. You have a great blog! I enjoy your recipes.

  43. I just bough my first jar of Ajvar……..found it in a fruit shop. It is so delicious and am thinking of ways to use it. Loved the directions on how to make it and will have a go one day soon……..Thank you!

  44. Hi, Marija. You have a wonderful blog! I wanted to thank you very much for this helpful post and very practical tips I used making my very first ajvar this year. I haven’t preserved it (I keep in the fridge) because the batch was rather small, but I will do it next year certainly because it is fabulous. Thank you again!

  45. Just found this blog. Thank you for all the wonderful recipes, many of which I could not find anywhere else. I will definately try the ajvar recipe. Also shnenokle – while my Mom was alive, she made it often for me as it is my favorite and now I have the recipe!

    • i am so happy you found so many recipes you like! Please let me know if you make something how it turned out :)

  46. Do you add any other vegetables besides eggplant and red pepper? Any Onion or garlic? Lemon juice?

  47. This is a wonderful post and very insightful, but I think it should be noted that this is actually pindjur, a variant, and that ajvar is made with just red peppers.

    • Nope, pinđur is tomatoes and peppers, eggplant might be added also depending on the region. :wink:

  48. I love ajvar! It is the most tasteful spread I know of, and I make it each year – no exception… You wrote perfect “how to make ajvar” post…

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