There are so many different ways to make Russian Pickled Tomatoes (солёные помидоры), which in Russian, translates to 'salted tomatoes'. It's a perfect recipe for when you have lots of tomatoes in your garden, and need to preserve and use them up quickly.
What are Pickled Tomatoes?
Russian Pickled Tomatoes are great for storing for the winter. They are just like many other vegetables that we pickle, from Dill Pickles to Italian Giardiniera. This recipe kind of combines both. Pickled tomatoes are just like they sound, whole tomatoes that are pickled in a vinegar brine. It's a Russian and Slavic staple that you can find in any Eastern European deli.
There are multiple recipes in Russian that are called pickled salted tomatoes, which can sometimes be confusing. My other recipes have focussed on fresher recipes, where the tomatoes are kept in the fridge and eaten. My favorite is Marinated Tomatoes, which is an updated version of what I grew up with. Using ketchup in the brine, adds extra flavor and spices and is really easy to make. My other salted tomato recipe is a Fermented Pickled Tomatoes which is incredibly healthy, and full of probiotics.
My fridge is now full and I need to 'can' (preserve) these tomatoes. It will be great to open the jar up in the winter time, when fresh tomatoes in the store are completely tasteless. Pickled Russian Tomatoes provides me a taste of summer, in a jar.
How to Can Pickled Tomatoes
The process for canning is different from my other recipes, and requires sufficient salt and vinegar to keep it preserved safely. I'm not an expert on canning temperatures, so please refer to the USDA guidelines on canning found at http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html . Some people have a proper water canner, but I just used my giant pot from my crab cooking set, which incidently is also my turkey deep fryer.
Adding carrots and peppers are optional, people usually make just pure 'canned' tomatoes with dill and spices. I can't pass up the opportunity to stuff other vegetables and herbs in the gaps of the jar, seems like such a waste not to!
Why do I add black currant leaves? This is a Slavic thing, that adds crunch to the pickled items. If not using Blackcurrant leaves, you can use Horseradish leaves or even Cherry leaves. The tannins in the leaves makes the pickled vegetables naturally crunchier, or the perception of. I never skip this and have planted a black currant plant for the leaves, just as much as the fruit!
What are the spices and herbs used when pickling tomatoes? Traditionally there would be garlic, peppercorns and dill for a basic Russian pickled tomatoes. Some people add allspice, but I find that overpowers, I use 2 cloves instead. I love adding cilantro, and I have a bay leaf tree growing in my yard, so I add it into everything. All these pickled flavors together make for an unforgettable pickled vegetables and tomato recipe.
How to Prevent Tomatoes From Splitting
The tomatoes have a tendency to split their skins in the heat, so you can prick a small hole in the tomato, using a toothpick or even a fork. If you have lots of tomatoes, you can double or triple the recipe easily, but my recipe is just for a single 3 litre jar, which gets me through the winter.
Why is the Pickling Jar Upside Down?
The main reason is to ensure that the jar seals. Even after boiling, when the jar is turned upside down, the heat of the water is in contact with the lid. This continues the sterilization and ensures a strong seal. It looks funny but it works. Be very careful as the lids and glass is very hot and you will burn yourself if you aren't careful.
It can be hard to find large enough jars to can tomatoes, but I was lucky enough to find and re-use a pickled eggplant jar. Just make sure the lid is good, otherwise the seal will come undone. You can use several 1 litre jars, but make sure that the tomatoes are too huge.
Russian Pickled Tomatoes are perfect to eat with Plov, and even mashed or fried potatoes or just by themselves. It's a staple in every Russian house. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
Russian Pickled Tomatoes (солёные помидоры)
- whole tomatoes to fill a 3 litre jar
- bunch of dill best with dill flower if available
- bunch of cilantro
- 1 black currant/horseradish leaves optional
- 10 cloves garlic
- 10 peppercorns
- 2 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 carrot sliced optional
- 1 chilli pepper chopped in circle pieces optional
- 1 paprika pepper chopped in circle pieces optional
- 1 bell pepper capsicum deseeded and sliced in strips (optional)
- 6 cups water
- 6 teaspoons salt
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- ¾ cup white vinegar
- Wash tomatoes and remove the stems.
- Prepare sterilised jars. This recipe uses a 3 litre jar, which is most commonly used, and easy to pack with tomatoes.
- Place the dill, cilantro, black currant/horseradish leaves, garlic, bayleaf, cloves and peppercorns into the bottom of the jar. Set aside some dill and coriander if you wish to put some in the middle of the jar, amongst the tomatoes.
- Place the tomatoes on top of the herb/spices until the jar is full. I usually cut the last tomato in half, so it fits better into the jar. As you layer the tomatoes, stuff the pepper and carrot pieces in between the tomatoes, filling the gaps that are available.
- To make the brine, in a medium pot, over high heat, add the water, vinegar, salt and sugar and bring to a rolling boil. Using a Pyrex glass measuring jug, slowly add the hot brine into the tomato jar, covering the tomatoes. Close the lid tightly.
- Place the jar in a boiling water bath to ensure the lid is covered. Full canning recommendations from the USDA can be found here. Keep the tomatoes in the water bath for 15 minutes before carefully removing and placing upside down on the countertop until it's fully cool.
- The jar should be sealed and ready for storing in your pantry. If the top of your lid still pops, then the seal did not take, so keep refrigerated and eat your tomatoes right away. Enjoy!
*Full canning recommendations from the USDA can be found here.