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Varenye Recipe (Classic European Whole Fruit Preserve for a Sticky Sweet Treat)

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Whether you spread it, spoon it, dollop it, or drizzle it, our sweet and velvety varenye recipe is a wonderful way to make a whole fruit preserve you can store at home and use in so many different ways.

Varenye Recipe

This simple yet lusciously sweet and soft strawberry treat can be spooned onto ice cream, stuffed into buttery pastries, spread on toasted bread, or enjoyed in its own right, one spoonful at a time.

Europeans have been making this beloved preserve for generations, and it is a great way to make the most out of a batch of strawberries or other berries you have in the refrigerator at home.

What is Varenye?

Put simply, varenye is a whole fruit preserve. It is made by taking a big batch of berries, in this recipe strawberries, or other fruits, and slowly cooking them in sugar, sugar syrup, or less commonly other types of sweetener, such as honey.

The biggest difference between varenye and jam is that when making varenye no thickening agent is used and the fruits used, although softer, maintain their structural integrity. In jam, the fruits soften so much that they become a part of the viscous liquid itself. Hence, varenye is a whole fruit preserve.

Hugely popular across Europe and historically a technique used to store berries and fruits picked in the summer for longer periods of time, you will find varenye in Eastern European cuisines, including Ukrainian cuisine and Moldovan cuisine, among others, and in the northern Baltic cuisines, in the likes of Latvian cuisine and Estonian cuisine, among others.

Varenye Ingredients

To make our strawberry varenye, you’ll first need the following ingredients:

  • Strawberries – 1 kg (2.2lb)
  • Sugar – 1 kg (2.2lb)
  • Lemon Juice – from 1 lemon
  • Water – 1 ½ cup

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1 – Wash the strawberries and then remove the leafy parts of the strawberries.

Step 2 – In a small pot, add the sugar and the water.

Step 3 – Boil for about 15-18 minutes until you get a syrup consistency. Test by dropping a bit of the syrup on a plate and see if the drop holds up.

Step 4 – Add the fruit to the syrup, and put it over medium heat until it starts bubbling.

Step 5 – Turn the heat down to low and let it bubble slowly for about 10 minutes.

Step 6 – Add the lemon juice.

Step 7 – (Optional) – If the syrup is not thick enough, you can remove the strawberries and boil the syrup more on low heat until it reaches the desired consistency, and then, add the strawberries back in.

Once it’s ready, we like to spoon our lusciously thick and glistening varenye into jars, ready to be sealed, stored in the refrigerator, and used as and when needed.

However you enjoy varenye, this is such a great way to use any leftover berries or fruit you have at home that may be about to go off. A generous spoonful of this sweet, viscous, syrup-like goodness can be used in so many dishes and put a smile on so many faces!

Varenye Recipe Card

Varenye

Varenye
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1kg (2.2lb) strawberries
  • 1kg (2.2lb) granulated sugar
  • juice from 1 medium lemon
  • 1 ½ cup water

Instructions

  1. Wash the strawberries and then remove the leafy parts of the strawberries.
  2. In a small pot, add the sugar and the water.
  3. Boil the sugar and water for about 15-18 minutes until you get a syrup consistency. Test by dropping a bit of the syrup on a plate and see if the drop holds up.
  4. Add the fruit to the syrup, and put it over medium heat until it starts bubbling.
  5. Turn the heat down to low and let it bubble slowly for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the lemon juice.
  7. (Optional) – If the syrup is not thick enough, you can remove the strawberries and boil the syrup more on low heat until it reaches the desired consistency, and then, add the strawberries back in.
  8. Once it’s ready, we like to spoon our lusciously thick and glistening varenye into jars, ready to be sealed, stored in the refrigerator, and used as and when needed.

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Contributor: Efimia has a wealth of experience cooking dishes from across Eastern Europe and the Balkans, and has been feeding her beloved family and friends with these dishes for over forty years.

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