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.
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.
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.
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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:
Russian Grandma’s Pickled Tomatoes
- 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
- In a big pot, sterilize jars and lids in boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove them from water with cooking tongs.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!