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Russian Homemade Pickles: History and Traditions
November 10, 2018 15:11

For centuries people have had to store food and stock up for the cold Russian winter. Our ancestors fermented, brined, soused and pickled some of the harvested vegetables. Modern pickle recipes present the tradition of the national Russian cuisine.
The conept 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.
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Folk Customs
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.
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Nowadays three-liter glass jars are the most common vessels for Russian pickles, whereas in the past, those were wooden barrels, tubs, earthen pots, and birch bark containers. Stored for up to several months in such traditional homemade vessels, pickles preserved their strong and hearty taste perfectly.
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Modern Russian Pickles
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.

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Types of Russian Pickles
In Russian cuisine, the procedure of canning vegetables falls into four types: fermenting, brining, sousing and marinating. Each type has its major components. A similar approach has come down to us. The most typical Russian pickles are sauerkraut, brined cucumbers, pickled tomatoes, soused apples, and marinated mushrooms.
Our homemade pickles are usually served as appetizers or vodka chasers.

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However, some of them are good as ingredients for other dishes. It is widely known in this country that cucumber pickles give special piquancy to the world famous Russian Salad. Rassolnik, i.e. pickled soup from the Saint Petersburg cuisine, cannot do without them either. Well, the famous cabbage soup (schi) with sauerkraut is a traditional dish of Russian cuisine. Marinated mushrooms, when mixed with finely chopped onions and garlic and a spoon of sunflower oil will make a great pickle salad.

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Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Russian Cuisine Russian Traditions Regional Cuisines   

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