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What Are Varenyky? The Rich Heritage of Ukrainian Cuisine

What Are Varenyky? The Rich Heritage of Ukrainian Cuisine

Varenyky are a beloved dish in Central and Eastern Europe. You may be asking, what are Varenyky? Varenyky is simply the Ukrainian word for pierogi and this dish has held a special place in the hearts and kitchens of many Ukrainians and Americans alike. A symbol of comfort, tradition, and culinary craftsmanship is what this heavenly dish stands for - whether you call it Varenyky or pierogi. Passed down through generations, Varenyky evoke nostalgia with every bite. 

Let’s answer the question of “What is Varenyky?” and why its taste can connect generations and create lasting memories.

What Are Varenyky?

Varenyky, or pierogi, are dumplings made by wrapping dough around various sweet and savory fillings.

The word "Varenyky" originates from the verb "varyty," which means to boil. Therefore, Varenyky simply means "things that have been boiled.” 

Legend tells of Varenyky being a divine gift to the Ukrainian people, a symbol of prosperity and happiness. Our ancestors saw great symbolism in this dish. Shaped like the new moon, Varenyky were used as sacrificial offerings to symbolize new beginnings and growth. Kneading the dough was thought to represent the creation of the universe, while the filling symbolized family continuity. Dumplings were a staple at significant events. For example, girls brought Varenyky to women who had just given birth, and they were eaten when cows were calving to ensure the cow's calf would be healthy and strong. During the harvest, Varenyky were also believed to give reapers the strength and inspiration they needed. Hence, its name can be heard in songs, stories, and even on postage stamps, where Ukrainian culture is most prominent. 

In Ukrainian folklore, Varenyky are often associated with good fortune and are traditionally celebrated during festive occasions. Such a deep cultural connection makes Varenyky a timeless dish in Ukrainian cuisine.

What Are Varenyky’s Ingredients and Fillings?

Famous for its tender, handmade dough and a variety of savory and sweet fillings, let’s explore the ingredients that make Varenyky irresistible.




Varenyky Dough

The foundation of perfect Varenyky lies in its dough.

At Veselka, these delicacies are made with simple ingredients such as wheat flour, egg yolk, milk, and vegetable oil. The addition of milk, a special twist from Veselka, is what keeps our Varenyky dough springy and tender. Then, the fresh dough needs to be rolled out thinly to accommodate the flavorful fillings.

The perfectly made dough needs to strike a balance - tender yet sturdy enough to hold the fillings during cooking.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make Varenyky dough in Veselka’s style.

Varenyky Fillings

Traditionally, potatoes are the classic filling for Varenyky. But in Ukrainian cuisine, Varenyky can be filled with a variety of ingredients, from sweet to savory, from meat to vegetarian. In savory Varenyky, popular fillings come from creamy potatoes, tangy sauerkraut, earthy mushrooms, farm cheese, cabbage, to meat, short rib, and beef.

Sweet Varenyky, often enjoyed as desserts, includes fillings such as sour cherries, blueberries, cheese, and many more.

Let’s take a look at the different types!

Varenyky—Pierogi Classic Fillings

  1. Potato Pierogi: An all-time favorite in many Ukrainian families, potato pierogi with creamy mashed potatoes simply melts in your mouth.
  2. Braised Beef Pierogi: Treat yourself to tender and juicy, slow-cooked beef with a rich and savory flavor.
  3. Sauerkraut & Mushroom Pierogi: A mixture of tangy sauerkraut with earthy mushrooms bring a delightful contrast of bursting flavors.
  4. Cheese Pierogi: Sweet or savory, cheese-filled pierogi are always a hit. They are made from farmer’s cheese for an unforgettable flavor that pairs perfectly with our fried onions and sour cream.

Varenyky—Pierogi Specialty Fillings

  • Short Rib Pierogi: A gourmet twist on the classic that will make your mouth water, these delicacies are filled with tender shredded beef, slow-cooked to perfection in port wine.

What Goes Best with Varenyky?

Varenyky has stood the test of time, but it has become a more memorable meal with perfect side dishes.

Savory side dishes such as smoked sausages, crispy bacon crumbles, and sautéed onions and mushrooms could elevate Varenyky's flavor. To refresh your palate, try having a taste of Varenyky with crunchy vegetable salads or a dollop of sour cream. If you're in the mood for a spicy kick, add a mix of mustard and horseradish.

For more ideas, take a look at Veselka’s guide on what to serve with pierogi.

How to Store and Heat Varenyky?

Storing and reheating Varenyky correctly to retain their delicious tastes. Here are some tips:

  • Refrigeration: Store cooked Varenyky in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days if you want to consume them shortly
  • Freezing: Place and arrange Varenyky, ideally in a single layer on a baking sheet to avoid sticking, and freeze until solid. Transfer them to a freezer bag and store them for up to 3 months.
  • Reheating: Boil frozen Varenyky with salted boiling water, then simmer them gently until they float to the water’s surface and continue to boil them for 90 seconds.

For detailed instructions, check out Veselka’s blog on how to store pierogi.

Discover the Best Varenyky at Veselka!

At Veselka, our skilled chefs handcraft 5,000 pierogi daily, promising you the taste of genuine comfort food that reflects Ukraine's rich culinary heritage.

Visit Veselka for a culinary journey rooted in tradition.

FAQs

Let’s answer some common questions about Varenyky.

What does Varenyky taste like?

Varenyky can be savory, like those filled with potatoes or meat, or sweet, like those filled with fruit or sweet cheese. The dough is tender, and the fillings are rich and satisfying.

What's the best sauce to put on Varenyky?

Sour cream is a classic choice for Varenyky. Its creamy, tangy flavor perfectly complements both savory and sweet fillings, making it a definite hit.

What are the differences between Pelmeni, Pierogi, Pyrohy, and Varenyky?

Pelmeni are smaller and often filled with meat. Pierogi and pyrohy are also Varenyky but are cherished in Poland and Ukraine, respectively, with slight variations in fillings and preparation methods.

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