Making Rakija in Bosnia and Herzegovina

A unique and enriching experience

I live in a small village in Bosnia and Herzegovina and many years ago I was introduced to the art of making rakija, a traditional Balkan brandy.

It was such a unique and enriching experience, that I attend Rakija Baking annually and I wanted to share it with you.

First of all, let me tell you a little bit about rakija.

It's a type of brandy made from various fruits, with the most common being plum, apple, quince, and pear. It's a popular drink throughout the Balkans and is often served as an aperitif or digestive.

The process of making rakija is a time-honoured tradition in many villages in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The fruit is harvested and then crushed, usually by hand, to extract the juice. The juice is then fermented for a few weeks, before being distilled to create the final product.

I have had the opportunity to participate in the process here in the village. It is a lot of hard work, but also a lot of fun.

We harvest the fruit, crush it by hand using large wooden pestles, and then transfer the juice to barrels to begin the fermentation process. The most impressive part of the process, however, is the distillation.

This is where the magic really happens.

The fermented juice is placed in a copper still and heated over an open fire. As the liquid boils, the vapour rises and is collected in a condenser, where it is cooled and turns back into a liquid.

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This liquid is then collected and bottled, resulting in the final product: rakija.

The whole process takes several days, but it is so worth it. The final product is delicious and has such a unique, complex flavour. It really is a truly memorable experience, and one that I always treasure.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit a village in Bosnia and Herzegovina and participate in the process of making rakija, I highly recommend it.

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It's a great way to learn about local traditions and taste some truly authentic, homemade rakija.

So, if you are ever in Bosnia and Herzegovina, don't forget to try some rakija and experience this unique and delicious tradition for yourself.

David Pejčinović-Bailey MBE