Beginner Vegetables: Ozark picture (OKRA, Part llI)
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Our Stewart's Zeebest okra is producing heavily now, and we've been enjoying it fixed several different ways. I saved up a couple of pickings and had about 200 pods, so I made six more pints of OKRA PICKLES this evening. I really like these!
I use wide-mouth pint canning jars as they're easier to pack with okra. In the bottom of each sanitized jar I put one clove of garlic (mashed with the back of a spoon) and one Maui Purple Pepper cut down the side so the brine can get in. I grow Maui Purple Peppers in a pot, and they're small but very hot with good flavor. Other hot peppers would work just fine for this.
Cut off the okra stems as short as possible (I use scissors), lay each jar on its side and pack okra pods into it - stem-ends at the bottom of the jar. I use the largest pods for this bottom layer and if the tips of some extra-long pods have to be trimmed off to fit in the jar, that's fine. I don't like to cut too many okra pods going into these jars, as cut okra will make the brine slimy. I pack okra pods into the jars until I can't get any more to fit with the stem-end all the way to the bottom of the jar, then I set the jar upright.
Smaller okra pods are used for the top layer, and they go pointy-end down and stem-end up. Just keep poking them in until no more will fit. This evening I was getting 30-35 pods in each jar. When each jar is full screw the lid on - otherwise the pods will raise right up out of there.
The okra I had filled six pint jars, and as a rule of thumb I pack all kinds of pickles into jars as tight as I can, then make HALF as much brine as the total volume I'm canning - three pints of brine in this case. I always have some left over this way, which is better than coming up short. For these okra pickles, I made the mixture a little less than half white vinegar, a little more than half water, and dissolved a half-cup of kosher salt in it. Last year I pickled okra with a brine of 1/3 vinegar, 2/3 water - and that seemed a little too mild to me.
I filled the six jars with brine, screwed the lids on finger-tight, and gave them a hot-water bath, fully immersed, in a pot on the stove - got the water in the pot up to 180 degrees with the jars in it, turned off the heat and left them in the hot water for 45 minutes at which time it was 140 degrees. Then I took the jars out of the hot water, tightened the lids, and set them on the counter to cool.
These okra pickles are GOOD. My 10 y.o. granddaughter discovered that she loves them on her last visit, and she ate nearly a whole jar. Ever since I made these last year I've had her convinced that they're "yuck" - but she finally tasted them anyway and now the cat's out of the bag. Now I'll have to make enough to share!
Okra is still my favorite veggie, I think. We've made it roasted, fried, breaded, un-breaded, in gumbo, barbecued, pickled, and every which-way. We've settled on our favorite way to fix it, though - sauteed. Here's a video I found that showed us about that, only we just add butter, salt, and pepper - no onions. Ignore the guy in the video acting stupid the first minute, he soon quits it and the okra is real, real good fixed his way.