Christmas come early

As I forgot to mention earlier, I’m now back in Ukraine teaching for a couple of weeks. My pupil’s mum is a fantastic cook and on my last visit she very kindly promised a masterclass in Ukrainian cuisine. True to her word, vareniki (a type of dumpling), borscht (beetroot soup) and uzvar (a dried fruit drink) have all been on the menu, and for purely selfish reasons I’ve incorporated recipe writing into our lesson plan.

So here’s how to make uzvar – an aromatic drink which is traditionally served hot on Christmas Eve but is also delicious cold in the heat of summer. I plan to make it at home with the gift of sun-dried fruit I was enormously happy to be presented with; this mixture is probably hard, if not impossible, to get hold of in England, but Russian and Ukrainian delis would be the best bet. As I write this in my hotel room, a powerful fruity smokey bonfire aroma is embedding itself in the curtains and wallpaper, not to mention my hair and clothes. Yum.


UZVAR (amended recipe)


  •  300g mixture of sun-dried fruit: pears, green and red apples, hawthorn berries, rosehips, cranberries, prunes.
  • water
  • honey

Add the dried fruit to a large pan of boiling water. Cover and simmer on a very low heat for 5 to 6 hours 15 minutes, then leave, covered, for 5 to 6 hours. Strain the liquid into a jug, add honey to taste and serve hot or cold.

I have a strong suspicion the leftover fruit will make incredible pie filling or fruit salad.

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