Traditional Ukrainian winter cuisine
We want to devote our article to Ukrainian winter cuisine, which is a bit different from what we eat during other seasons, but it does not make it less delicious.
So what do Ukrainians eat during cold times of the year? There is a dish which is popular not only in winter, but in summer too. It is borsch, just to remind you, it is a kind of soup, made with vegetables and meat. We have this soup with a clove of onion and brown bread or small buns baked in the oven. It is a traditional Ukrainian borsch recipe. Salo gives a taste to borsch. It is well-established sign of hospitality and a good tradition to serve it either as a side dish or as a separate one. But to tell you the truth not all people love it, it is more of a stereotype that we have salo and borsch for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
One more representative of winter cuisine in Ukraine is potatoes. The ways we like them are numerous: we love them baked, stewed, boiled and, the most delicious type is fried potatoes with lard and onions. Mmmm… if you have a chance, try it. Such dish is definitely going to let you feel the real taste of Ukraine.
I cannot help mentioning one of the Ukrainian traditional foods, vareniky. Yes, we cook them all year round and all year round they are tasty, with no exceptions, but… the filling of vareniky differs depending on the season. In cold season we usually prefer something more nutritious, so we usually make vareniky with meat or vegetarian variant, while during other seasons various fruits might be used as the filling. The dough is made beforehand, modified in a form and pinched, after boiled.
The most popular food in Ukraine might hardly be imagined without any pickled fruits or vegetables. Why? As you can guess, fruits and vegetables do not grow in our gardens in winter, so we pickle them at the end of the summer. The varieties of pickled stuff you may try are countless. Therefore, if you have a chance, try whatever you can. Just ask for “Solenyia” – that is how we call conserved/pickled products and you will be absolutely surprised by its unusual taste. It is the whole process. Personally I haven`t tried to do it by myself from the very beginning to the end, but I was giving a helping hand to my grandma. She was teaching me how to do it correctly. We used to make a selection first of beautifully-shaped vegetables, so tomatoes and cucumbers in ideal shape were put aside for future conserving. My grandma used to be very fussy with this. After picking the best ones, we washed them and prepared different herbs which go along in a pot. Then we sterilized the pots and put in a hot place. Seems like a long process… But it is worth it. You will enjoy a perfect pickle with mashed potatoes. Young generation is not much into it now, because there is a big choice of pickles in the supermarket. But nothing can be compared with homemade ones. And it can be the best snack for any holiday. Not a single guest may resist a temptation to try it.
Having mentioned salty “Solenyia”, I cannot help talking about its sweet twin-brother – jam, or, as we call it “varen’ye”. Jam is an inseparable part of our cuisine, since it goes as a sweet additive to many dishes. You will not be surprised to hear that Ukrainians drink a lot of tea during cold times. If we drink any hot beverage, we must eat some sweet tasty thing with it, and this is where jam appears. We may eat it separately or it could be a pancake filling, which are traditional foods of Ukraine much loved by both adults and kids.
Finally, there are some fresh fruit and vegetables. These are cabbage, apples, oranges, and, my sweet passion – tangerines. To tell you the truth, if you ask any person what associations they have with winter, the first images which will come to their mind will be snow, cold, new year ,uncle frost and… right TANGERINES. This is the most traditional fruit of New Year and Christmas, which, interestingly, is not usually grown in Ukraine, but imported from hot countries. Anyway they are considered to be a symbol of winter holidays.
So, if by chance, you are going to come to our country during a cold season, everything that you eat is going to give you the sheer pleasure. What is your favourite thing to cook in Ukrainian cuisine? There are plenty of simple recipes. If you like cooking, you can start with the easiest recipes and then continue with more difficult ones. For example, in order to make borsch, you will need approximately 45 minutes, but for vareniky you are going to spend a bit more time including dough preparation. Good luck and bon appetite!