Russian-style pickled vegetables always look like they were just freshly picked: they are extremely vibrant in color, and not mushy but crisp. There is an endless variety of pickles, because Russians pickle everything that grows: cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, watermelons, cabbage, eggplants, and whatever else can fit in a jar, can, bucket, or barrel and taste good 6 months later. For me, there is nothing more simple and delicious than pickled tomatoes.
Pickled with aromatic herbs, vegetables and garlic, red tomatoes are all time favorite in our family. Unlike those crunchy pickled green tomatoes you find at delis and gourmet markets, these tomatoes are gorgeously tender and bright with flavor, vegetables still crunchy ( photo#3 ) and their sweet and sour pickling brine is crisp and bubbly like the most delicious sparkling wine. There are also many ways to use the wonderful pickling brine, like adding it to salad vinaigrettes, soups or sauces which need some tanginess and we love to add it into Bloody Mary cocktails. —Kukla
one 1-gallon jar pickled tomatoes
7 to 8
large firm under-ripe beefsteak or salad tomatoes, washed under cold water and halved
celery stalks with leaves, chopped
10 to 12
baby carrots, washed and sliced in half lengthwise
medium celery root, peeled and sliced
9 to 10
garlic cloves, quartered
3 to 4
mini bell peppers, seeded and quartered lengthwise
Layer all ingredients except the salt and honey in a 1-gallon jar, starting and finishing with the aromatics and making sure that the jar is filled to the rim. You may need to cut the last tomato into quarters so it fits perfectly. Then add salt and honey and fill completely the jar with cold water.
Place and tighten the lid, turning the jar a few times upside down until the salt and honey is dissolved; then take off the lid and cover the jar with a piece of cheesecloth and keep the jar in a warm, sunny place (I keep mine on the balcony). Let stand for 3 days or until you can see tiny bubbles coming up.
Once a day, place and tighten the lid and turn the jar upside down for a few seconds, then set it back down, take off the lid, cover again with the cheesecloth and let stand until the next day. After two days, taste to see if you like it. If you find it’s not ready for your taste, let it stand for another day and then refrigerate and enjoy. You can keep them safely for about one month refrigerated, but who would do such a silly thing?