Saturday, August 4, 2012

Okra, Okra, Oh-KRA!

You guys, my okra plants are out of control. Granted, the beds are raised, but each of the 5 plants is taller than my head. I harvest between 5 & 8 pods per day, and the pods are GIGANTIC. We love us some okra in this house, but we've finally grown weary of every-other-day consumption.

okra with purple beans ready to bake
It was time to bring in reinforcements in the form of my colleague/inspiration, Nora. Nora is a fellow massage therapist and an all-around great soul. She has a soothing energy, great hands, an incredible laugh... I could go on all day. She also gardens and has much more experience than I. When I told her about my chronic, shallow over watering issue, she stopped, smiled and said 'you're a caregiver, Rachel. You were just taking care of them.'

When Nora posted recently about pickling some of her okra, my ears pricked up immediately. I adore pickled okra. When I say 'adore', I mean 'I can eat a jar in one sitting'. My tummy might hurt afterward, but that will not stop me from doing it in the first place.

This week, the okra harvest reached the level of 'ridiculous', so Lily Ruth and I wandered over to Miss Nora's house to see her chickens and get her recipe. I also had a chance to sample some of her already made okra pickles, and I almost melted into the floor with delight.

I am completely jumping the gun here because my batch is barely out of it's boiling water bath, but I'm going to post the recipe anyway knowing that even if I managed to personally mess it up (which I won't know until it's time to open a jar), the recipe itself is good :-P

Nonna's Pickled Okra
    courtesy of Nora Pullin

For 3 pint jars:

2 cups water
1 cup white vinegar
2 Tbsp canning salt

1 1/2 Lbs fresh okra
3 dried red chili peppers
3 tsp dried dill
3/8 tsp Pickle Crisp granules (Calcium Chloride)
** I also added 1 whole garlic clove and 1/2 tsp whole dried corriander seeds to each jar**

First, boil your jars, lids and bands for 10 minutes to sterilize them. Take them out of the water & set them aside (do NOT wipe them off with a dirty kitchen towel :-P). Keep the water hot - you'll need it again in a minute.

Combine the water, vinegar and canning salt in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil

To each jar, add 1 dried chili, 1 tsp dill and 1/8 tsp Pickle Crisp (and garlic & corriander if you're feeling saucy). Divide the okra between the jars. Add the brine (a.k.a: water, vinegar & salt) then tighten the lids onto the jars.

Return the jars to the water bath, and boil for 10 minutes. CAREFULLY remove jars and set aside to cool completely (approx 6-8 hours).

Pickles are ready to eat as soon as the jars are cool, but will get spicier as they cure... if they last that long...

Refrigerate after opening.

1) This recipe easily doubles, triples, etc. I made 6 wide-mouth pint jars using just my large pasta pot and a medium saucepan.
2) Canning lids (the round, flat disk with the rubber gasket) can only be used ONCE, but the jars & the bands for the lids can be reused.
3) Ball jars do not automatically come with labeling stickers - I am bummed, but I guess this just gives me an opportunity to make something fun...
4) My daughter is especially patient today. I gave her some soap and free rein at the bathroom sink. This kept her occupied for most of the writing of this post...

*edit: DANG, these pickles are guuuuuuuuud! I managed to wait approximately 7 hours after removing them from their water bath before opening the first jar, and I am hooked! SO tasty! So crunchy! The garlic and corriander are permanent additions to my version of the recipe! I also ended up with enough okra to make a second batch of 7 jars just one week later! The okra is out of control!!!!*

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