Berkovitsa Handmade Yufka

Ark of taste
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Юфка от Берковица

Once prepared throughout the country, today handmade yufka can mainly be found just in Berkovitsa, in northwestern Bulgaria. Yufka is a dried pasta made from flour, eggs, salt and water. The dough is rolled out into sheets, spread onto cotton sheets and left to dry in the sun. After about an hour, the pasta is flipped to dry equally on both sides. Once completely dry, it is broken into small pieces and stored in cloth bags for up to one year. These noodles are often served simply, boiled with butter, or can be used in preparing soups.

Preparing yufka in the home has been a tradition in Bulgaria for over a century. This pasta was often prepared in advance to be eaten throughout the winter. In other regions, variations include using milk or semolina in making the dough. Unlike Turkish yufka, which is a pita-like pastry, Bulgarian yufka is a dried product. Sometimes, the dried pasta sheets are baked in an oven for a short time, to give the pasta golden or brown colors and a deeper taste. Unlike industrially made pastas made with powdered eggs or without any egg, handmade yufka is made only with fresh eggs.

Despite yufka’s superior taste, many people have switched to using industrially made pastas, which have a longer shelf life. With this change, many people have lost the know-how and skill of preparing yufka in the home. In the Berkovitsa municipality, the local community sees yufka as a strong culinary tradition, and so this food is often offered to tourists and guests in restaurants and hotels. However, most handmade yufka is still prepared for personal consumption, and not commercial sale. It is at risk of being lost, because the preparation is time consuming and considered old fashioned. As more people abandon smaller towns and villages, the related culinary traditions like yufka are being lost.

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