Pods absorb us....no, I don't think so. We absorb pods! Okra, like a lot of green "fruiting" plants produces seed packets that are commonly referred to as "pods" (there is even a plant that was the actual inspiration for the pods in Body Snatcher commonly called "the Body Snatcher Pod Plant."). I have repeatedly stated that I am a southerner--also a gardener, not to mention the whole loving to cook thing. Okra has always been a big part of the my family's gardens since before I was born. While it was mostly "put away" in the freezer--in old days the common way of keeping it was to pickle them. And....I LOVE pickles of any sort. So to hell with those pods taking us in our sleep--after a week or so these are ready for us to snatch at night!
Sterilized jars and lids
Fresh okra pods
This is a very simple pickle and quantities are not given because it depends on how much fresh okra you can get your hands on. If you grow it yourself, then there is likely to be a lot even if there are only a few plants in the garden. If you purchase it, it's best to get the stuff from a farmer's market or a produce truck if you can find one selling okra (then ones from the supermarket are fine for cooking but make lousy pickles). For rough measurement, take 3 lbs. okra, that would be 4 1/2 cups of vinegar with around 2/3s cup salt and 1/4 cup sugar to around 4 to 4 1/2 cups water.
The directions are simple. First bring a big pot of water to boil and sterilized the jars and lids. Remove the clean tongs and drain on clean kitchen towels. While the jars drain, bring the brine solution to boil--adding the first 4 ingredients and boiling, then adding the water and boiling again. Pack jars tightly with the fresh okra, then pour the brine over them and gently screw on the lids. Most recipes then instruct to "process" the jars to completely seal them, which just means putting them back into the boiling water bath and heating for at least 10 minutes. I generally find that when putting the lids gently on and then letting them sit, the hot vinegar will pop the lid down, and then the lid rings can the screwed down tighter and the jars stored. If find this keeps the okra a lot more crisp. Any that don't properly seal--I throw in the fridge. These need to sit about a week.
|Variation showing red chile and some sliced garlic.|
Anyone who actually purchases pickled okra knows that they usually come in two kinds: mild and hot. I love hot stuff, so when I pickle I usually add two to 4 small dried red chiles to the jar.
Some hot varieties also have garlic. For a real garlic treat cut the pepper to 1 (or eliminate altogether) and up the garlic. Try adding some oregano or marjoram.
Fresh small green chiles are used in a lot of recipes. Southern gardens almost always had "finger hot" chiles, so when making the spicy pickles decades ago, these were added, as dried chiles were unknown.
An old and virtually forgotten okra pickle was the "bread and butter" type--that's a sweet pickle. To make these, up the sugar (for the above proportions that would be increasing the sugar to 1 1/2 cups. Add in whole mustard seed and some celery seed.
A nice spicy version can be achieved by packing red pepper flakes, whole garlic and dill seeds. These are kind of like a Kosher dill.
Any kind of herb, fresh or dried that suits your fancy can be added--keeping in mind that you need more of the fresh. To my taste, rosemary is too overpowering.
This is a basic pickle solution, so pickle whatever you like with the solution. Green beans are a favorite in the south. They make great hot dog toppers. Although definitely not southern, this also works wonders with asparagus.