Cooking with Kalyna

Kalyna Fruit Leather

Kalyna berries can be used to make a wide variety of food products, a fact that is well known to many long time residents of Kalyna Country. The following recipe for fruit leather was provided by Juanita Krause, of Thorhild, shortly after the ecomuseum was established in 1992.

My family enjoys fruit leather and in the autumn when we have a plentiful supply of apples I like to make it and store it for school lunches. I have found that the addition of fresh highbush cranberry juice to the apple pulp not only adds zip to the taste, but makes the fruit leather a beautiful red.

1 cup of fresh highbush cranberries

4 cups of ripe crabapples, quartered and cored

1 tablespoon of honey

To prepare the pans for drying fruit leather either thinly coat a clean cookie sheet with oil or cover the cookie sheet with Saran Wrap and tape the edges down with masking tape.

Using a cone and pestle, crush one cup of fresh highbush cranberries to separate the juice from the skins and seeds. Pour the juice over the apples and honey in a food processor, and process into a fairly smooth paste. Spread the fruit paste to about one quarter inch thickness on the prepared pans and dry in a dehydrator. If you use an oven for drying, make sure you keep it at a slow warming but not cooking temperature (90 to 115 degrees F).

Savory Kalyna Sauce

The following sauce is a perfect complement to pork tenderloin that has been rubbed with a paste of mustard, thyme, savoury, marjoram, and freshly ground black pepper. Roll in chopped parsley, roast and serve with peas, carrots and pasta. Although red or black currant jam or jelly, or grape jelly, can be substituted for highbush cranberry, this should only be done outside of Kalyna Country!


1/3 cup of kalyna jam or jelly

1 tbsp. of Dijon mustard

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

pinch of salt and pepper

Melt the jam in a small pot over medium-low heat. Stir in the mustard until the mixture is smooth. Add vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour over tenderloin slices. Serves two.

Kalyna Tea – An All-Season Source of Vitamin C

teaAlthough regular cranberries can be substituted in this recipe, that would change the name of this brew to “Bog-Berry Tea” — which sounds like a swamp-water concoction from the backwoods….


4 cups of highbush cranberries

10 cups of water in 4 and 6 cup batches

2-3 cups of sugar

15 whole cloves

1 cup of red-hot candies

1 cup of orange juice concentrate

½ cup of lemon juice

Bring cranberries in 4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for four minutes, or until the berries pop. Strain and discard the skins and seeds, setting aside the approximately 4-1/2 cups of juice. In a separate saucepan combine sugar, cloves, candies and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for five minutes or until the candies dissolve. Afterwards remove the cloves and stir in the orange juice concentrate, the lemon juice, and the previously prepared kalyna juice. Serve the resulting 3-1/4 quarts of tea either hot or chilled.

Kalyna Cough Syrup

Kalyna berries can be used to make many different food items, and they can also be utilized in the preparation of medicinal remedies. This local recipe was provided by Juanita Krause of Thorhild, having been passed down to her from her baba, Sophie Olchowy, through her mother, Veronica Kolasa.

Place eight (8) cups of highbush cranberries in a large pot with just enough warm water to cover them. Boil for fifteen minutes, allow to cool slightly, and then sieve out the seeds and skins.

Sweeten with just enough sugar to keep your tongue from curling. Bring the sweetened syrup to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent the bottom from scorching, and pour the liquid into sterile pint jars and seal.

To treat a child’s cough or cold have him/her sip two ounces of kalyna syrup that has been gently heated with a tablespoon of honey. For adults the addition of a tablespoon of cherry whiskey adds a little something extra to the evening dosage. Kalyna is an excellent source of vitamin C, one of the plant’s numerous healthful properties.

Kalyna Ketchup – You Betcha!

After you’ve made your Kalyna Jelly, there is always a question of what to do with the leftover pulp from the berries. The following recipe is from a Ukrainian-language book entitled Preserved Fruits and Vegetables, published by Ukrains’ka Knyharnia in Winnipeg in 1937.


8 medium-sized onions

3 quarts of highbush cranberry fruit      pulp, previously cooked and strained

1 quart of vinegar

1 tsp. of ground cloves

2 lbs. of brown sugar

1 tsp. of cinnamon

½ tsp. of ginger

¼ tsp. of red pepper

Cook together for one hour and bottle for use. (More detailed instructions were not provided.)

Nectar of Nepiminana — Kalyna Liqueur

It is easy to make kalyna liqueur, a wonderful digestif that you can enjoy as special treat or offer to guests as a unique taste experience. Ranging from amber-reddish to scarlet in colour, the liqueur has the slightly tart flavour that is characteristic of cranberry juice, and a very faint but not unpleasant bouquet of ripe kalyna.

Ingredients: Highbush cranberries, sugar, and vodka.

Pick the kalyna berries when you can smell them in the bush, after they have ripened in the fall. Once you have removed any twigs and leaves, rinse the fruit thoroughly and place it in a gallon-sized pickling jar, layering the berries with white sugar to taste – more if you like your liqueur to be sweeter or more syrupy.  If you avoid crushing the fruit, the juice will remain clearer and easier to strain. Allow the berries to stand 2-3 days, so that they can absorb some of the sugar. Next, fill the jar with sufficient vodka for the alcohol to be 1-2 inches above the sweetened berries. A quality East European vodka (anything unflavoured from Ukraine, Poland, Finland or Russia) is generally preferable to North American brands, which tend to have an after-taste. Carefully stir the mixture, seal the jar with plastic wrap, and cover with a lid. Subsequently stir the concoction every week or so, as the sugar has a tendency to settle. After 6-8 weeks, strain the kalyna-flavoured liqueur into a decanter or bottle, making sure that you eliminate pulp or particles that would cloud the finished product. Serve in an embroidered liqueur glass (optional).