Thursday, September 6, 2012


Varenye is Russian for fruit preserves. Varenye differs from American-style fruit preserves in that it's syrupy rather that spreadable. Though it can be made from any kind of fruit, in my family varenye was just one flavor: sour cherry.

You can find decent quality varenye at most Russian stores, but homemade is best.

Luckily, at the very end of cherry season I happened to score some u-pick sour cherries with which to make it.

But before I get to the recipe, the fall issue of Cooking Club magazine is out! Check out the "Weeknight Cook" column (on page 46) for four recipes by yours truly. My Seared Sirloin Steaks with Horseradish Cream Sauce, Spicy Baked Catfish with Garlic Butter, Smothered Pork Chops with Onion Gravy, and Spiced Chicken Drumsticks with Blood Orange, Red Onion and Parsley Salad are simple and delicious, even if I do say so myself.

Also, the fall Clark College class schedule just came out. I'll be teaching Baked Custards, Seared to Perfection, and The Season for Soup. Please join me in the kitchen! Current class listings can always be found in the Cooking Classes, Book Signings & Appearances sidebar on the right.

Sour Cherry Varenye
Printable Recipe

1 pound sour cherries, pitted
12 ounces sugar

Toss together the cherries and sugar in a small saucepan and let macerate, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until soft and juicy. Stir in 4 ounces of water. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally and skimming off any scum that rises to the surface, for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until thickened and slightly syrupy.

Makes about 1 ½ cups. Keeps for months tightly sealed in the refrigerator. For teatime in the Russian style, forgo the sugar and sweeten your hot tea with a spoonful of varenye.


Irina said...

Beautiful and look absolutely delicious, just as I remember varenye should look. I can only dream about a homemade varenye here. Texans do not have a clue what they are missing. And cherries look like Murano glass art.

Unknown said...

I remember cherry jam from Russia, in fact I made it sour cheery preserves recently. It is the best!!! I love homemade jams, it is something special about it. Nice to meet you! And Thank you-)

Julia said...

I grew up eating varenie! Where do you buy sour cherries though? I never see them in the stores or markets.

Lucy Vaserfirer said...

There’s a local orchard where I go to pick cherries. But if you don’t live in cherry country, sometimes Russian stores have frozen ones.

Irina said...

frozen cherries will not work for varenye. i recently tried to make vereniky with frizen sour cherries and it just wasn't the same, thin and metal tasting.

Anonymous said...

Both my grandmother and my husband's grandmother - both old Russians - forbade us from stirring the varenye while it was cooking; you were supposed to just shake the pot every once in an while. And they never added water to berry varenye. Their method was just to put the berries in a pot, dump the sugar on top in a 1:1 ratio, and then let it cook on the lowest flame possible, until it begins to simmer, and pink foam appears on the surface, which you have to skim off. When all the foam was removed, the varenye was done.

Anonymous said...

How 'bout Black currant varenye? No English language recipe seems to get the different prep method (sugar and berries until juice is produced, then the boil -- berries stay intact)

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