Fermented Milk Products from All Over the World • Varenets (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus)
Similar to condensed milk, varenets is a type of fermented milk product that is obtained through cooking the milk. It has a rich texture and a sweet taste, so people like adding this to their cup of coffee, in baking or just enjoying it as it is. While varenets is similar to ryazhenka, another baked milk variety, and people often mistake one for the other, these two are different products. It is true that both use sour cream to culture the milk, but, in comparison to ryazhenka, where sour cream is added to the milk and then cooked, varenets involves the cooking of the milk first and then adding the sour cream to trigger the fermentation process.
So, in order to make varenets, you will have to preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Then pour the milk into a pot, preferably earthenware if you have it, and place the milk in the oven when it reached the desired temperature. Cook the milk this way for 2 hours, stirring it occasionally to break the skin that forms on the milk. Just do bear in mind that the final skin should be left in place. When it is ready, the milk should have a light brownish color, making you think about caramel milk. Then, once it is not that hot, add sour cream and leave it to ferment and thicken. When varenets is prepared industrially, Streptococcus thermophilus is added to the milk, to recreate the traditional fermentation process that was once obtained by the people that made this at home. It has a pleasant taste and it is great as a snack or breakfast option.