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Russian Grandma’s Pickled Tomatoes

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Enjoy your fresh, juicy tomato harvest even through the winter by using this one age old secret. Get your pickling on! Try these Russian pickled tomatoes: healthy, delicious and super easy to make. A flavorful and refreshing appetizer or snack made in only 30 minutes that will keep for months on the shelf. Sealed jar with Russian pickled tomatoes.

This recipe was originally published on October 28, 2015 and was updated on September 17, 2020.

Did you know that you can actually pickle tomatoes? In the stores we’re so used to seeing jars and jars of pickles but my Russian grandma pickled tomatoes. This goes back to the old days when canning and preserving tomatoes was a necessity.

Pickled vegetables have deep roots in Russian history. People had to can food that would spoil quickly. If they failed to be ready for the long, cold winter, they would be in trouble.

Pickled tomatoes in a bowl

Why Make Homemade Canned Tomatoes?

Nevertheless, canning is still widely popular in Russia and Ukraine. Some do it out of necessity, some are just used to doing it every year, and some simply like to enjoy healthy zakuski (appetizers) in the winter rather than consume processed food.

Still, others are like me: nostalgic and enthusiastic about trying new things!

Canning is something that my Russian genes call me to do since living abroad. I love pickled food. Despite the fact that I could easily purchase canned food in the store, I would still choose home made pickled tomatoes over anything else.

One reason is because the health benefits of store bought pickled vegetables are questionable due to the industrial techniques used.

But the main reason I make these tomatoes every year is because they taste so good!

These homemade pickled tomatoes 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.

Pickled tomatoes in a jar.

The Health Benefits Of Pickled Tomatoes

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!

Another great fermented recipe that is great for gut health is this Russian Homemade Sauerkraut.

It makes them perfect for holiday meals when you eat a lot of heavy food.

Fun Tip! Pickle juice is a fantastic hangover cure, as it restores your salt and electrolyte balance, making you feel better.

Closed jar with pickled tomatoes with dill umbrellas

How To Preserve Tomatoes

Before we get into this tomato pickle recipe, you’ll need a quick intro into canning tomatoes. If you don’t really know where to start, let me introduce you to the expert canner, Jenny Gomes from The Domestic Wildflower.

She covers everything you need to know about canning in her canning course for beginners. In the course you will have step by step video lessons, clear instructions, and foolproof recipes.

Take advantage of her wisdom and reap the health benefits of canning, save time and money by skipping the frustration and go straight to the expert source.

The best thing about this course: it’s FREE! 

Tomato Selection

When picking tomatoes for this tomato pickle recipe make sure they’re fresh.

If you aren’t harvesting tomatoes from your own garden, be sure to examine each tomato at the store to make sure there are no bruises or signs of molding. 

By choosing fresh, ripe tomatoes that aren’t too hard you’ll get the tastiest result.

The best type of tomatoes for pickling are Roma tomatoes (also known as plum tomatoes). You can use cherry tomatoes as well.

Pickled tomatoes in a bowl next to a jar.

How to Make Russian Pickled Tomatoes

You might be surprised to hear that the big secret to Russian tomatoes is the salt, not the vinegar. Same goes for Ukrainian pickled tomatoes, as they are mostly made in the same way.

It is surprisingly easy to make them yourself with these 4 simple steps:

  • sterilize the jars;
  • gather ingredients;
  • make brine;
  • fill the jars and close the lids.

It’s that easy!

Prepare Sterilized Jars

In a large pot, sterilize jars and lids in boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove them from water with cooking tongs.

Alternatively, wash jars and lids in a dishwasher on high temperature.

The third method is to put the lids and the jars upside down in the cold oven, then heat it to 260 F (130 C) and keep the jars there for 20 minutes.

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.

Sterilized jars for canning tomatoes.

Gather Ingredients

These are the basic herbs and spices I usually used since my recipe is adapted to Western markets:

  • Dill (with umbrellas)
  • Scallions
  • Bay leaves
  • Parsley
  • Oak leaves (to keep the tomatoes from splitting)
  • Sliced garlic
  • Black pepper
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Sugar
  • White wine vinegar (optional)

Herbs and spices for pickling tomatoes.

These are the herbs that my grandma adds:

  • Cherry leaves
  • Blackcurrant leaves
  • Horseradish leaves
  • Tarragon (optional)
  • Summer savoury (optional)

But feel free to experiment with different herbs!

Additional herbs for pickled tomatoes.

Put tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, parsley, dill, scallions and oak leaves (tarragon, summer savoury, cherry, blackcurrant and horseradish leaves if using) in jars. Try to surround the tomatoes with leaves evenly, as you won’t be able to move them later. Fill jars with boiling water.

Pouring boiling water into a jar with tomatoes.

Make the Brine

Pour the water from jars into a medium pot or saucepan. This step allows you to determine the exact amount of water you need to fill in the jars. Add black peppercorns, salt and sugar and let boil for 5 minutes. Add vinegar (if using).

Adding salt into the brine.

Pour The Brine and Close The Jars

Pour the brine back in the jars. If tomatoes are not completely covered, add more boiling water but make sure there is a bit of space in the jar before you put the lid on to prevent leaking. Firmly close the lids. Turn the jars upside down for two to three days.

A jar with tomatoes upside down.

If you want, you can seal the jars using water bath canning: Boil your jars in water in a large pot over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes. That will prolong the shelf life even more.

A sealed jar with pickled tomatoes.

Exact Ingredients

These are the ingredients you’ll need:

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

Ingredients for Russian pickled tomatoes.

How To Store Pickled Tomatoes

Pickled tomatoes are ready within one or two weeks, depending on the size. (or earlier if you used small or cherry tomatoes).

Store them at a room temperature or lower before opening. Using this recipe, an unopened jar will last about a year on the shelf, if you add vinegar to it.

Once you open the jar, store it in the fridge for six weeks.

Opened jar with pickled tomatoes.

What Do You Do With Pickled Tomatoes?

When you’ve completed the process you may be wondering, “What do you do with pickled tomatoes?”

Great question!

  • You can serve them as a small appetizer (like you would with a plate of antipasti) along with a side of Russian Dill Pickles.
  • Eat them as a snack right out of the jar. You don’t eat the skin but just bite on it and suck out the flesh and juices. It doesn’t look pretty but it’s so good!
  • Use them as a refreshing side to a big, beautiful bowl of Borscht soup or as a side to this comforting vegan casserole.
  • Try adding them into a salad.

Other Ways To Use Garden Tomatoes

Your garden has produced a rich harvest of tomatoes, and now you have the problem that you need to consume them quickly?

If you don’t want to go through the effort of preserving tomatoes then try making this delicious Italian Tomato Mozzerella Salad.

Or a big batch of Fresh Pico de Gallo Tomato Salsa to serve alongside the best vegan tempeh tacos that are one of my all-time favorite taco recipe.

Top Tips

  • Canning tomatoes is a great way to preserve your tomato harvest to enjoy it later during the winter holiday season.
  • Garden fresh tomatoes with give the best result (choose Roma or cherry tomatoes).
  • These Russian pickled tomatoes are a delight snack, or even an appetizer along with a side of Russian Dill Pickles. Serve them along with a heavy meal instead of a salad, as an addition to a cheese board or simply alongside a bowl of soup.
  • Sterilize your jars using one of the following methods: Put your jars and lids in boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove them from water with cooking tongs. Alternatively, wash jars and lids in a dishwasher on high temperature. The third method is to put them upside down in the cold oven, then heat it to 260 F (130 C) and keep them there for 20 minutes.
  • This recipe makes two 1.5 l or half gallon glass jars of tomatoes (or equivalent) which is roughly 10 servings (2-3 tomatoes per serving).
  • Make sure there is a bit of space in the jar before you put the lid on to prevent leaking.
  • An open jar of pickled tomatoes will last up to six weeks in the fridge.

Recipe Variations

  • Feel free to experiment with the herbs (pickling is an art not a science!) Use any combination of the herbs from the list above that are available to you.
  • Add vinegar to the brine if you want to prolong the shelf life. An unopened jar will last about a year on the shelf, if you add vinegar to it. Without the vinegar they will store for about six months on the shelf. To prolong the shelf life even more, use water bath canning (see instructions above).
  • The jars you use can be any size. Just make sure the tomatoes are fully packed and completely covered with brine.

Pouring the brine into the jar with tomatoes.

 
Print
5 from 52 votes

Russian Grandma’s Pickled Tomatoes

Try these Russian pickled tomatoes: healthy, delicious and super easy to make. A flavorful and refreshing appetizer or snack made in only 30 minutes that will keep for months on the shelf. 
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Russian
Keyword canning tomatoes, pickled tomatoes, preserving tomatoes, Russian pickled tomatoes, russian tomatoes, tomato pickle recipe
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Calories 31kcal
$5

Ingredients

Instructions

Sterilize the jars

  • In a large pot, sterilize jars and lids in boiling water for 15 minutes (see alternative sterilizing options in the notes below). Remove them from water with cooking tongs.

Fill the jars

  • Put tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, parsley, dill, scallions and oak leaves (tarragon, summer savoury, cherry, blackcurrant and horseradish leaves if using) in jars. Try to surround the tomatoes with leaves evenly, as you won't be able to move them later. Fill jars with boiling water.

Make the brine

  • Pour the water from jars into a medium pot or saucepan. This step allows you to determine the exact amount of water you need to fill in the jars. Add black peppercorns, salt and sugar and let boil for 5 minutes. Add vinegar (if using).

Pour and close

  • Pour the brine back in the jars. If tomatoes are not completely covered, add more boiling water but make sure there is a bit of space in the jar before you put the lid onto prevent leaking. Firmly close the lids. Turn the jars upside down for two to three days.

Store

  • Pickled tomatoes are ready within one or two weeks, depending on the size. Store them at a room temperature or lower before opening. Using this recipe, an unopened jar will last about a year on the shelf, if you add vinegar to it. Once you open the jar, store it in the fridge for about six weeks.

Notes

Top Tips 

  • Canning tomatoes is a great way to preserve your tomato harvest to enjoy it later during the winter holiday season.
  • Garden fresh tomatoes with give the best result (choose Roma or cherry tomatoes).
  • These Russian pickled tomatoes are a delight snack, or even an appetizer along with a side of Russian Dill Pickles. Serve them along with a heavy meal instead of a salad, as an addition to a cheese board or simply alongside a bowl of soup.
  • Sterilize your jars using one of the following methods: Put your jars and lids in boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove them from water with cooking tongs. Alternatively, wash jars and lids in a dishwasher on high temperature. The third method is to put them upside down in the cold oven, then heat it to 260 F (130 C) and keep them there for 20 minutes.
  • This recipe makes two 1.5 l or half gallon glass jars of tomatoes (or equivalent) which is roughly 10 servings (2-3 tomatoes per serving).
  • Make sure there is a bit of space in the jar before you put the lid on to prevent leaking.
  • An open jar of pickled tomatoes will last up to six weeks in the fridge.

Recipe Variations

  • Feel free to experiment with the herbs (pickling is an art not a science!) Use any combination of the herbs from the list above that are available to you.
  • Add vinegar to the brine if you want to prolong the shelf life. An unopened jar will last about a year on the shelf, if you add vinegar to it. Without the vinegar they will store for about six months on the shelf. To prolong the shelf life even more, use water bath canning (see instructions above).
  • The jars you use can be any size. Just make sure the tomatoes are fully packed and completely covered with brine.

Equipment

half gallon glass mason jar
canning jar lifter tongs
medium pot
large stock pot

Nutrition

Calories: 31kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 11mg | Potassium: 392mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1749IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg
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Sealed jar with Russian pickled tomatoes Pinterest

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About Elena Szeliga

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Elena Szeliga is the founder of Happy Kitchen.Rocks, where she shares delicious and healthy vegetarian and vegan food, from weeknight dinners to veganized classics and gourmet appetizers. Her recipes have been featured at Better Homes & Gardens, BuzzFeed, Country Living, The Kitchn and Reader’s Digest. Her mission is to help cook easy vegetarian and vegan meals with simple and fresh ingredients. Read more about Elena.

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