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 Grandma's Pickled Tomatoes Served in a White Bowl with Spices next to Them

Russian Grandma's Pickled Tomatoes on the Wooden Table

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 Grandma's Pickled Tomatoes with Birch in the Background
Russian Grandma's Pickled Tomatoes on the Table Next to the Birch Tree
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 Grandma's Pickled Tomatoes Beautiful Closeup of the Canned Products
Russian Grandma's Pickled Tomatoes Overhead Composition on the Table
Russian Grandma's Pickled Tomatoes Ingredients Collage of Two Images

If you are interested in canning but don’t really know how to start, let me introduce you to Jenny Gomes from A Domestic Wildflower. She is an expert in canning and she covers everything you need to know about canning in her canning course for beginners. Get step by step video lessons, clear instructions, fool proof recipes, and reap the benefits for your health and wallet from an expert! Jenny generously offered a 20 % discount on her course for you, my readers! Just use the special price coupon code: ELENASREADERS  and enroll to the course!

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:

Russian Grandma's Pickled Tomatoes Served in a White Bowl with Spices next to Them
5 from 2 votes

Russian Grandma’s Pickled Tomatoes Rich Snippet

Russian Grandma’s Pickled Tomatoes: healthy, delicious and super easy to make. 30-min recipe with dill, bay leaves, parsley, garlic, black pepper and salt.

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Russian
Keyword Russian Grandma’s Pickled Tomatoes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 2 clean 1.5 l or 2 quarts glass jars or equivalent
  • 1.5 kg or 3.3 lb tomatoes, washed and dried
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4 leaves bay
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 bunch dill (better with seeds)
  • 1 stalk scallions
  • 2-3 leaves oak
  • leaves tarragon, summer savoury, cherry, blackcurrant and horseradish (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns or pepper mix
  • 5-6 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, optional


  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!

Russian Grandma's Pickled Tomatoes in Greenery CannedRussian Grandma's Pickled Tomatoes with Tomatoes Around on the TableHave you pickled anything yet? Share your experience in the comment section below!

Russian Grandma's Pickled Tomatoes Served in a White Bowl Collage with Text Overlay
Russian Grandma's Pickled Tomatoes Served in a White Bowl Collage with Text Overlay
Russian Grandma's Pickled Tomatoes Served in a White Bowl Collage with Text Overlay
Russian Grandma's Pickled Tomatoes Super Long Collage of Two Images with Text Overlay









  • Laurie Peccini

    Hi Elena,
    I decided to find out what PH would be safe for the tomatoes instead of a water bath after putting them in the fridge. They had already sat out at room temp upside-down for 3 days before then. When I opened the jar it released the seal, so good to know it had sealed itself during it’s time at room temp.
    I checked with a litmus paper. The recommended PH for safety was 4.5, and mine registered 5, so I feel safe now about serving them. Can’t wait to try them, and thanks so much for your timely answer…they look gorgeous! L.

  • Laurie

    Dear Eva,
    I was so excited to make your Grandmother’s pickled tomatoes…found some locally grown Marzano plum tomatoes at a Farm Market store to use. Now that they are done, I do have a few questions…I used 6 TBS of kosher salt, not table salt, but I tasted the brine and it was quite salty…do you think Kosher salt was OK?
    Also, I did not put them in a water bath afterward for 15 mins. Your recipe did not say we should do that, so I am hoping it’s not required?
    I found some beautiful 2 qt jars from Italy that worked perfectly… The contents look so fantastic in their upside-down position on my counter, and I can’t wait to try them this Thanksgiving!
    Thanks so much for this recipe, and I hope you can answer my questions,

    • Elena Szeliga

      Hi Laurie, to start with, great that you made my grandma’s tomatoes! Hope you and your family will enjoy them for Thanksgiving! They should taste great by then.
      As for the salt, I wouldn’t worry. The brine should taste quite salty as the salt is basically the main preserving agent here. Since kosher salt is a bit more dense than sea salt, you might need a tiny bit less of it. Anyway, my grandma prefers to estimate “by eye”and never follows a precise recipe 🙂 Her tomatoes always taste amazing though.
      Since you plan to keep your jars closed until Thanksgiving, I would actually recommend a water bath to make sure they don’t go bad. Just boil your jars in water for 15 minutes. I can’t tell you what happens if you don’t do it but I would just do it to be on the safe side. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out again!

  • Ellen

    Hello Elena, My husband and I spent 2 years going back and forth to Russia for a job a few years back and we had the pleasure of eating pickled tomatoes made by his translators wife Anna. They were one of the best tastes I had over there and have wanted to try them for some time now. I had a copy of Anna’s recipe but never had enough garden tomatoes to try them and have since lost the recipe. Your grandma’s recipe looks similar to what I remember and I have an abundance of tomatoes this year so I am excited to finally get to try my hand at making them. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe , I can’t wait for my results.

    • Elena Szeliga

      Hi Ellen, I’m so happy this recipe brought up some nostalgia to you! Hope you’ll love your canned tomatoes! The hardest thing is to wait for them to pickle. Let me know how you like them 😉

  • Billy

    I love that you took it upon yourself to can your own pickled tomatoes instead of buying them from the store! I think its likely you’ll save a bunch of money and they will probably be better for you too! I love being able to make sure that what I get out is exactly what I put in, and that all my ingredients are natural and local. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

    • Elena Szeliga

      Hi Billy! Thank you for stopping buy and leaving your comment. I really appreciate that! I love homemade food too and I think it’s tastier and healthier than store-bought. Besides, it’s not always harder to make! 😉

  • Denise

    Hi Elena, it’s winter here in Australia and last weekend I opened my first jar of Grandmas pickled onions. I added them to a dish of sauteed mushrooms and sprinkled feta. They made a simple dish into something special. It was delicious as a side dish to our roast and also a great hit with our vegetarian children.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Elena Szeliga

      Hi Denise! I’m so happy you like them! Thanks for your feedback! You mean tomatoes, not onions?
      Anyway, great idea to add them to sauteed mushrooms! I should try it next time 😉

      • Denise

        Oops I did mean tomatoes!!!!
        We also sampled some pickled onions as well as some caper berries I had put away earlier in the year. All delicious, we are very fortunate to be able to enjoy these home grown and prepared goodies. Our children and their families love coming to the country for a visit and to try whatever goodies we have in store and we love these family get togethers.
        Denise 🙂

  • Nicole

    Hi. I’m in Oregon, in the USA. These look absolutely delicious. I’m definitely wanting to try them. I’m wondering about the leaves. You said they are for firmness? I’ve not heard of using oak leaves before but have heard of using grape leaves for that. Would those work or would that make for a flavor difference? I have a small patch of grapes on my backyard so would love it if those leaves would work.

    And a fun fact. My husband’s family is Russian Mennonite that immigrated to Canada several generations ago and my family is German Mennonite that immigrated to the USA several generations ago. Between us we have many German and Russian recipes in our heritage. I learned to can from watching my grandma and love to make the foods she made that can’t be bought in stores.

    • Elena Szeliga

      Hi Nicole! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your story! I love to receive comments like yours on my blog! You are right, canning food the way our ancestors did brings us closer to our roots and brings up dear childhood memories.
      As for your question, I would say go ahead and use your grape leaves! They would give a nice aroma to the tomatoes. A small tip: you can use the leaves later to prepare dolma. Hope you and you family enjoy this recipe! Please let me know how you liked it.

  • 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.
    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!

  • 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? 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:
      Have a great day Bill and thanks again for your comment!

  • 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!

    • 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!

  • 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 😉

  • 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!

  • 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!

      • hbkauffman

        Do these need to be canned to keep through the winter, or is the hot water pour-over enough to keep your tomatoes safe to eat?

      • Elena Szeliga

        If you want to store them longer, I would suggest water bath canning: Boil your jars in water in a large pot or saucepan over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes.

    • 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.

    • 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.


    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!

  • 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!

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