Russian Grandma’s Pickled Tomatoes

Russian-style pickled tomatoes: healthy, delicious and super easy to make. 30-min recipe with dill, bay leaves, parsley, garlic, black pepper and salt.

Canning is something that my Russian genes call me to do much more since I live abroad. I love pickled food and I know you can easily buy it in any supermarket (though the quality and health benefits would be questionable) but I was really missing my grandma’s pickled tomatoes, so I decided to make them by myself.

Russian-style pickled tomatoes: healthy, delicious and super easy to make. 30-min recipe with dill, bay leaves, parsley, garlic, black pepper and salt.Russian-style pickled tomatoes: healthy, delicious and super easy to make. 30-min recipe with dill, bay leaves, parsley, garlic, black pepper and salt.They are nothing like pickled tomatoes you buy in a shop. The key agent in Russian pickles is salt and not vinegar and that’s what makes them special. The whole canning story has its deep roots in Russian history. People were canning food they couldn’t save for winter, so that they don’t get in trouble during six months of cold and snow. There is a saying:  “Prepare the sled in summer, and the cart in winter”, meaning “while it is fine weather mend your sails”. It was a good idea to plan your nourishment ahead. It still is but it’s not hard to find fresh food all year round any more. Nevertheless, canning is still widely popular in Russia. Some do it out of necessity, some are just used to do it every year, some like to enjoy healthy zakuski (appetizers) in winter rather than consume processed food, and some are like me: nostalgic and enthusiastic about trying new things.

Russian-style pickled tomatoes: healthy, delicious and super easy to make. 30-min recipe with dill, bay leaves, parsley, garlic, black pepper and salt. Russian-style pickled tomatoes: healthy, delicious and super easy to make. 30-min recipe with dill, bay leaves, parsley, garlic, black pepper and salt.Homemade pickles have significant health benefits: they enhance the vitamin and enzyme content of vegetables being pickled as well as improve the digestibility of the food you eat along with it! I makes them perfect for holiday meals when you eat a lot of heavy food. Moreover, the pickle juice can save your hangover mornings as it restores your salt and electrolyte balance, making you fell better.

Russian-style pickled tomatoes: healthy, delicious and super easy to make. 30-min recipe with dill, bay leaves, parsley, garlic, black pepper and salt.Russian-style pickled tomatoes: healthy, delicious and super easy to make. 30-min recipe with dill, bay leaves, parsley, garlic, black pepper and salt. Russian-style pickled tomatoes: healthy, delicious and super easy to make. 30-min recipe with dill, bay leaves, parsley, garlic, black pepper and salt.

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How to Make Russian Grandma’s Pickled Tomatoes

Try to can your tomatoes in a Russian way. I actually didn’t expect it to be that easy! I made two 1.5 liter (2 quarts) jars and it took me less than 30 minutes all together with sterilizing jars! My grandma doesn’t usually can less than 10 kilograms of tomatoes (22 lb), so it takes a little longer than canning my 1.5 kilogram (3.3 lb) of tomatoes. She gave me directions on how to pickle tomatoes and told me what herbs and spices she adds, as well as substitutions for those I couldn’t get in Germany (for example, horseradish and oak leaves are interchangeable). Feel free to experiment with different herbs: alongside with herbs stated in the recipe below, you can add tarragon, summer savoury, cherry and blackcurrant leaves, horseradish leaves, etc. My recipe is adapted to German markets, so I used dill, scallions, bay leaves, parsley, oat leaves, garlic and black pepper. Here is the result, my Russian Grandma’s Delicious Pickled Tomatoes:

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Russian Grandma’s Pickled Tomatoes
Russian-style pickled tomatoes: healthy, delicious and super easy to make. 30-min recipe with dill, bay leaves, parsley, garlic, black pepper and salt.
Russian-style pickled tomatoes: healthy, delicious and super easy to make. 30-min recipe with dill, bay leaves, parsley, garlic, black pepper and salt.
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
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Rate this recipe!
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Russian
Prep Time 0 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
Russian-style pickled tomatoes: healthy, delicious and super easy to make. 30-min recipe with dill, bay leaves, parsley, garlic, black pepper and salt.
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. In a big pot, sterilize jars and lids in boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove them from water with cooking tongs.
  2. Put tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, parsley, dill, scallions and oak leaves (tarragon, summer savoury, cherry, blackcurrant and horseradish leaves if using) in jars. Fill jars with boiling water.
  3. Pour the water from jars to a pot, add black peppercorns and let boil for 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper and vinegar (if using) and pour it back in jars. If tomatoes are not completely covered, add boiling more water. Firmly close the lids. Turn the jars upside down for 2-3 days.
  4. Pickled tomatoes are ready within 2 weeks. Store them at a room temperature or lower before opening. Once you open the jar, store it in the fridge for 6 weeks. Enjoy!
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Russian-style pickled tomatoes: healthy, delicious and super easy to make. 30-min recipe with dill, bay leaves, parsley, garlic, black pepper and salt.Russian-style pickled tomatoes: healthy, delicious and super easy to make. 30-min recipe with dill, bay leaves, parsley, garlic, black pepper and salt.Have you pickled anything yet? Share your experience in the comment section below!

Russian-style pickled tomatoes: healthy, delicious and super easy to make. 30-min recipe with dill, bay leaves, parsley, garlic, black pepper and salt.

Greetings,

Elena

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28 Comments

  • Lisa A

    First time to your site Elena, linked from Tasty Kitchen. Beautiful pictures! I want to try this next summer but have a couple questions. What is the purpose of pouring the boiling water over your vegetables/herbs and then dumping it back out to boil longer? is it a quick blanch/rinse of the produce to destroy bacteria? Doesn’t it disrupt your careful placement of the oak leaves/herbs? Which is lovely, by the way!
    it’s the dead of winter here in South Dakota, USA, and I’m dreaming of summer and my garden to come!

    • Elena Szeliga

      Thank you so much for your question and your kind words, Lisa! I called my grandmother regarding your question and she said that refilling the jars kills bacteria, just as you have anticipated, but also, it helps you to estimate exactly how much water you need. In case you have jars of a different size or different amounts of tomatoes, you can calculate the amount of salt you need: 3 tablespoons for each liter (US liquid quart). I hope that helps. My grandmother was really amazed and flattered that you asked about her recipe from the other side of the world 🙂 Thank you again for your comment! All the best greetings from Germany and Russia and a happy New Year!

  • IGOR @ COOKING THE GLOBE

    You reminded me my childhood when my grandma was making pickled tomatoes. She was mixing cucumbers and tomatoes in one jar. It was always nice to taste one, and then another! Now I guess I haven’t eaten them in like 10 last years… I guess I’ll have to ask my wife to learn making them too! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Elena Szeliga

      Thank you, Molly! It’s usually a part of zakuski table (hors d’oeuvres) and is served alongside with little pies, cured fish and meat, pickled cucumbers, mushrooms, sauerkraut, deviled eggs, canapés, etc.

    • Elena Szeliga

      Hi Linda! I’m sorry for this 🙁 You are supposed to use whole peppercorns. I’m sorry I didn’t make it clear in the recipe! I will update it asap. You still can use this water, I suppose. I think the tomatoes will taste a little spicier.

  • Jim Brookins

    What method is used to seal the jars? Boiling water bath or pressure cooker? By the way I’m form Western North Carolina,USA!

  • Eva

    Hi Lisa, I recently made three jars following your recipe, stored them upside down. One of the started leaking a bit after two days. I tried to close the lid tightly. I think the fermentation pushed the lid open. Do you think this jar will still work in two weeks or should I remake it? Thank.

    • Elena Szeliga

      Hi Eva, I think you still can save it. If your jar is too tightly packed or there is too much of liquid in it, it can leak because of the pressure. The best solution would be to pour a bit of liquid out of the jar and/or take one or two tomatoes out. Hope it helps. Let me know how it turned out!

  • Claudia

    Hello Elena,
    just finished three glases of your grandma`s tomatoes. They look beautiful. I hope, everything works out well.
    How is your grandma using them? Are there special recipes, special occasions or are they just eaten as they are?
    I am from a small village near Lüneburg!…….

    • Elena Szeliga

      Hi Claudia! Thank you for reporting and congrats on finishing the job! 😉 Let me know how you liked them. Normally, they are eaten as they are as a part of an appetizers table. Actually, I’ve never tried to use them in cooking , but maybe I should… Thank you for the idea 😉

  • Claudia

    Hello Elena,
    here I am again. I opend the second glas today and I am excited!!! They are wonderful! Fresh, salty, juicy …. just wonderful. Please say Thank you very very much to your grandma!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The first glas I opened in October was o.k. but now they are perfect!
    It is amazing to have kind of fresh tomatoes in the middle of winter!!!!
    They go perfect with german rye bread, lamb mortadella, mayonnaise and pickled cucmbers.
    But also just with cream cheese orwit feta cheese.

    This summer I will make LOTS of glasses!!!!!!

    Thank you!
    Claudia

    • Elena Szeliga

      Hi Claudia, I’m so glad you like my grandma’s recipe!!! And she would be so happy to hear your kind feedback too! That’s true, they taste the best when you let them rest for a couple of months. I will try them next time with feta cheese, love the idea!! Thank you for your feedback, I really appreciate it!

  • william vrabel

    Hi Elena, I am Bill from Bedford Texas USA. First, your photography is wonderful !!!!! I have several questions about Grandma’s pickled tomatoes. I am new to canning and I ask can you use green tomatoes in this process, green tomatoes are plentiful in Texas the other question is the use of oak leaves. What type of oak leave do you use? usually all recepies don’t mention this, also what type of flavor does it add? Pickled tomatoes are very hard to find in Texas. I am also of Russian decent. Do you have any information on how to make Babka? Thanks…Bill ferom Bedford. .

    • Elena Szeliga

      Hi Bill! First of all, thank you for stopping by! I’m glad you are like my photography! 🙂 So great that you are interested in Russian food! Regarding canning green tomatoes, I think you can certainly try canning them the same way as the red ones. The result will be different, since green tomatoes are naturally more sour and firm.
      Oak leaves are added for the firmness (I think you can skip them if you are canning green tomatoes). But also they work as a natural preservative, allowing you to store your cans longer. I wasn’t sure which type of oak leaves I used, so I googled it quickly and it looks like it’s English oak. I didn’t know there are so many types of oak trees to be honest 🙂
      As for the babka, I assume you mean a braided sweet bread similar to this? http://bakerbynature.com/chocolate-babka/ I don’t have a recipe on my blog, but I’ll definitely publish one! Thank you for the idea!
      I do have a recipe for Russian sweet Easter bread though, which is called “babka” in Ukrainian. In case you’d like to check it out, here is the link: http://happykitchen.rocks/kulich-sweet-russian-easter-bread/
      Have a great day Bill and thanks again for your comment!

  • Denise

    Hi Elena, My tomato crop is abundant this year and I have just made three jars of your Grandmas pickled tomatoes. They already look good enough to eat however I will resist the temptation and leave them to pickle. Thanks for your site, I am going to try some of your other treats as well.
    Regards
    Denise from Yea, Victoria, Australia.

    • Elena Szeliga

      Hi Denise, thank you for stopping by! Hope you like my tomatoes.
      I know it’s tempting to open the jars right away, but they really taste the best after being pickled for a couple of months. I’m so glad you used my Grandma’s recipe for your tomato harvest and hope you’ll find more recipes on my site to enjoy.
      I will be happy to hear from you when you open the tomatoes! Cheers from Hamburg!

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