Citizens, at this time last year, the mighty Generalissimo – TFD Himself! – had the pleasure of visiting Moscow for the first time! While there, I sampled pickles of the widest imaginable range, each more delicious and crunchy than the last! 🙂
As eruditely noted on russia-ic.com:
The concept of canning was inherent not only to the Eastern Slavs, but to many of the peoples who lived in Europe and Asia. The Russian cuisine stood out for the fact that national pickles were vinegar-free, as vegetables and fruits were fermented and soused. Moreover, no other country but Russia had the tradition of brined vegetables.
There are some evidences preserved that in the territory of our state, the Slavs soured cabbage and brined cucumbers as far back as the XII century.
In the XII-XIV centuries, pickling veggies and fruit for the winter time turned into a real family celebration. As soon as a family got to making sauerkraut, all girls from the village would put on festive sundresses and get together in that particular house. They would chop cabbage and sing songs all together. In the evening, guys would come and bring gifts for the hostess and all the girls.
After completing the ritual of pickling, the hostess would offer a large cabbage pie for all her assistants. After eating it, everyone would walk around the fire and sing songs. In that way, the ancestors cajoled the nature powers so that the products were preserved for the whole winter.
The recipes of modern Russian pickles were not invented every time anew. Long time ago, they were handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth, until published in the Russian Domostroy, aka the Household Management Code in the era of Ivan IV the Terrible. Lots of Russian families have inherited and preserved their ancestors’ recipes, which cannot be found in any book or on the Web. These secrets make an integral part of the family heritage.
Pickled tomatoes were amongst the most delicious, and it is this recipe and technique I wish to share with you today! An old Russian saying goes: “Pickling is a spiritual activity. A clean mind and pleasant mood must be found in any type of weather. Rude encounters on the street must be released. Spouses must be forgiven. And when all this is done and the moon is waning, then it is a day for pickling.”
Maya Markeliya, chef of St. Petersburg’s Baklazhan Restaurant, will not enter her kitchen for pickling unless she is in the right frame of mind.
As written on happykitchen.rocks, where I first found the foundation recipe for my own:
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!
It 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 feel better.
Like all good pickle recipes, it is imperative that you use leaves of a certain type in the recipe – specifically, those rich in tannins that help to both flavor the pickle and most importantly to keep them crisp. Oak leaves are the classic in Russian pickles, and I have added in herbs and a good hit of spice from horseradish and a touch of chili.
These are not difficult to make – just be sure to keep your hands scrupulously clean while making them and NEVER reach into the jar with your fingers, lest you contaminate the brine with bacteria that will ruin the pickles.
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
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