Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cherry Varenya

My mother and the Russian immigrants I grew up around would make and enjoy this Cherry Syrup that they called Cherry Varenya to sweeten their hot tea. They used whole pie cherries for this recipe. I got this recipe from my mother.
This is a very simple recipe for Cherry Varenya.

Cherry Varenya
1/2 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Whole Sour Cherries (Pie Cherries)
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
You would increase the proportions of this recipe according to how many cherries you have on hand that you want to make into Varenya.
Boil the water and sugar to make a clear simple syrup. When the liquid is clear add your cherries and let it boil for 10 to 20 minutes (depending on how hard the cherries were to begin with) At the end of the boiling add 1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to help preserve the brightness of the syrup.
You could increase the ingredients to have enough to can for future use. I don't know if I should admit this but I have never canned anything. If you are familiar with canning I'm sure you can do it successfully with this syrup.
You can do this process with sliced lemons, too, to make a Lemon Varenya.

Lemon Varenya
When I was young our family would go to a Cherry Orchard somewhere near Lancaster, California in July when the pie cherries were ready to harvest. It might have been in the Leona Valley. We would pick cherries all day and take home upwards of 40 pounds of cherries. That’s a lot of Cherries. When we picked this much my parents would give about half of the cherries away to other relatives and friends who couldn’t make the trek out to the Cherry Farm. Then it was a full day of preparing the cherries for Varenya. Washing, cooking and canning.


  1. Ellen, my mom made Varenya too, but we never used it in tea, but more like a topping over pancakes...
    She used to buy big 5 gallon pails of frozen sour cherries, no cherry trees in our neck of the woods...

  2. never heard of this but, wow! want to try it. thanks so much for sharing, looks lovely! as per usual ;)

  3. I have had varenya many times in the homes of Russian friends when we lived there. Thanks for the memory!

  4. Hi Ihave a sour cherry tree in my back yard so another cherry recipe is delightful. never heard of Varenya before. Do you leave the stones in or do you pit them first?Or spit the pit later? Thanks

  5. I love cherries, but we don't get them year-round in the stores here; when they come back, i will have to grab some and make this for later!

  6. Hello Anonymous,
    We didn't pit the cherries just discarded the pits as needed. I myself didn't eat the cherries just enjoyed how they sweetened my tea...

  7. Ellen, Thank You for replying to my pit ?? I think my kids would love the cherries in their tea, sounds like a fun idea!!

  8. Just read your post on Cherry Varenya, Ellen! You brought back FOND memories of that drive out to Leona Valley and the u-pick cherry tree ranch(it was the weekend before the 4th of July), and I think it was to the Bigler Family Ranch. Afterall, the Bogdanovs and Goosseffs (my folks) went together . . . do you remember the tractor rides and the coffee can cherry holders? LOL I waited in GREAT anticipation for that postcard to come mid June, informing us that the cherries were ready for picking and the price per lb. (my folks always complained about the high price and it was probably something like 39 cents per lb.!)