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The Plum Jam Cooking Competition

14. 8. 2014




Food and Beverages, Rest Days and Celebrations, Food conservation and storage

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The plum jam cooking competition in Szatmárcseke is organised every year in August since 1998. The participants build their wood-fired oven stoves, and the plum jam without sugar is cooked at low heat, with constant stirring all day. The traditional plum jam cooking of the Szatmár region has been inscribed on the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Hungary in 2013. (Source: Eszter Kisbán: Continuity and Change: The Choice of Food for Gastro-Festival around the Turn of the Millennium. In Patricia Lysaght ed.: Return of Traditional Food. Lund, 2013. 201-207.)

Locality Szatmárcseke, Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County Hungary
Time August (documented on 16-17th August 2013)
History (cyclicality) Organised annually since 1998
Organizer Local government
Realisation team Active participation in the competition is limited to 25-30 cauldrons and teams must register in advance. The competitors come from the area surrounding Szatmárcseke, which itself is allowed to enter only one team.
Target group Locals and tourists. In recent years the World Summit of Szatmárcseke has been also organised together with this festival.
Traditional culture elements The participants build their wood-fired stoves, and the plum jam without sugar is cooked at low heat, with constant stirring all day. The method of cooking at the festival is the same as the one practiced at home. What is needed for the cooking? 300 kg of plums, a large cauldron (60-70 litres), a stove, an efficient, hand operated stirrer, and other vessels. The stove is built every year of air-dried brick and mud by the participants.
Ethnographic criterion The technology of making plum jam was used throughout the country up till mid-20th century when more and more housewives had begun to make jam from a variety of fruits with sugar. Now only the oldest people remember the traditional plum jam.
Environmental criterion The plum trees were grown all over the Szatmár region, at the river side of Tisza until the regulation of the river. There local and regional varieties of plum still exist. Now the value of plum is increasing. Pálinka and jam made of plum in the Szatmar region are available in markets of the region, and they are distributed in the ecological shops, markets in Hungary and Germany.
Cultural-historical criterion Plum has been the most common fruit tree in Hungary and the plum was the only fruit ordinary households could preserve by cooking up till about 1960. Making plum jam in a traditional way is a traditional phenomenon with a long history.
Aesthetic criterion N/A
Ethical criterion There is no ethical problem
Psychological criterion The success of home-made products made of plum has mobilised villages in the region. It encourages people to make jam at home, and it strengthens the local identity.

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