Cherry Varenya ~ Russian Tea Sweetener

This was one of my most visited posts in 2016. I first posted this in 2008. I’m adding a photo to the top of the post. If you look carefully you’ll see a glass bowl of Varenya on the table next to the tea cups in front of my paternal grandfather (dzedushka) and grandmother (babushka).

img578The Russian immigrants I grew up around would make and enjoy this Cherry Syrup made with whole pie cherries in their hot tea. They used this syrup in place of sugar to sweeten their tea. I called my mother this week (April 2008) to get the following recipe from her to share for The-Sweet-and-Savory-of-Yummy.

This is a very simple recipe for Cherry Varenya. This is a syrup made with Cherries to sweeten hot tea with.


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 may want to can it at this point. (I don’t know how to can anything so you are on your own here!)🙂

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 Varenya. 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.

The photos are quite dark in this post and I’ve learned a few things since 2008 about taking photos of food and brightening them up before posting them. The photo of my grandparents is an old film photo scanned.

Hope the end of the year 2016 is going well for you. Maybe a cup of tea will help to brighten your day. Blessings…

8 thoughts on “Cherry Varenya ~ Russian Tea Sweetener

  1. What an interesting idea! Although it seems it would be sour, I guess the ratio of sugar would cure that.

    I love the stories you share about your Russian family!

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