The month of August – а́вгуст [avgust] is a very active month in Russia. As a matter of fact, those lucky enough to have a parcel of land – уча́сток [utchastok], and they are many, can harvest the fruit of their labor – уси́лия [ussilia], which, for some, will feed прокорми́ть [prakarmit’] them all year around.
It all starts as early as March, when spring’s around the corner, but the earth – земля́ [zemlia] is still covered in snow. The seedlings – посе́в [passev] are planted and potted in flats and as soon as possible, are transported to the vegetable garden – огоро́д [agarod]. If one has a greenhouse – тепли́ца [tiéplitsa], it may be heated while waiting for more favorable weather conditions. Then, after a few weeks of hard labor and natural fertilizer – удобре́ние [oudabrenie] yes, everything is organic here, no industrial pesticides – comes the time to harvest – уража́й [urajaï].
In the North of Russia, we can find cucumbers – огурцы́ [agurtsy] with peppers – пе́рцы [piertsy] and even tomatoes – помидо́ры [pamidory] in these greenhouses. The cucumbers, of medium size, will be marinated as per tradition in a mix of salted water and aromatic herbs – зе́лень [zelen], this will give the famous “malossol” cucumbers – малосо́льные огурцы́ [malassolnye agurtsy], litteraly “lightly salted”. You can, in fact, buy a bunch of these herbs at a market yourself and prepare your own marinade. Let the cucumbers soak overnight and as early as the next day you will have Russian pickles with a bit of a crunch and not overly salty! Professionals then put them in jars that they will store for the coming year.
Pumpkin – ты́ква [tykva] and the big pale green courgette – кабачо́к [kabatchok] have the benefit of not getting spoiled if they are not opened. Because of this, they will often spend the autumn under the bed before being eaten during the winter – зима́ [zima].
Even if we plant less potatoes today – generations of Russians remember having gone to help their parents unearth the potatoes – копа́ть карто́шку [kopat’ kartoshku] – it remains an indispensable food. To store them, the best solution is the famous “pit” – я́ма [Yama] dug in the earth 2-3 meters deep, where the temperature is constant all year around, even by times of great cold. There, you will also store the carrots – марко́вка [markovka], cabbage – капу́ста [kapusta], beetroot – свëкла [sviokla], radish – ре́дька [ried’ka] and turnip – ре́пка [riepka]. Part of the cabbage will be marinated to make a type of cold sauerkraut – ква́шенная капуста [kvashenaya kapusta], a food that keeps for long and ensures plenty of vitamins – витами́ны [vitaminy] for the long winter that approaches.
The other harvest of August, are the berries – я́годы [yagody] and mushrooms грибы́ [griby]. Those from the garden, currants кра́сная сморо́дина [krasnaya smarodina], blackcurrants чëрная сморо́дина [tchornaya smarodina], gooseberries – крыжо́вник [kryjovnik]. And the forest ones, like blueberries – черника [tchernika] or cranberries – клюква [kliukva]. Everything that hasn’t been finished will be turned into jam – варе́нье [varenie] and stored in the freezer – морози́льник [marazilnik], as a stock of vitamins for winter.
This year, the forests are packed with mushrooms, it’s the perfect time to discover this national sport with your Russian friends! We’re not quite sure what is most satisfying: the discovery of a delicious mushroom at the foot of a tree, or its degustation. The fact remains that we will dry out the excess mushrooms – суши́ть грибы́ [soushit’ griby] or we will put them in the freezer. They are a frequent ingredient in the soups – супы́ (soupy) that we adore here.
August is a very active month indeed, but a real pleasure – наслажде́ние [naslajdienie] and reserve of vitamins for the long winter months!