So, my garden is prolific this year and I am picking okra by the bagful. Fifteen years ago, when I moved to South Carolina from Pennsylvania, these furry little pods were foreign to me. I had never seen them let alone cooked one. Around this time, my southern Mema gave me a big bag of these and instructed me to fry 'em up for my dinner. I politely accepted her generosity and then meekly told her I had no idea what she meant. She looked at me and said, "Why of course you don't. Get in this kitchen and I will show you." In true Mema form, there was no official recipe. Over the years, in all the recipes she taught me (and there are many,) her only measurement reference was "ya just add ya a lil' bit" of said ingredient. It was not so much about the measurement, but more about the experience and the feel. That day, we ended up eating fried okra on her porch and watching the world go by. I miss her and everything she taught me about southern cooking and my local area. She never judged me, or made fun of my lack of southern heritage. She took me under her wing, taught me what she knew and provided a lot of good laughs in the process. She was happy to have me as her granddaughter; regardless of where I came from.
Pickled OkraThanks to my Mema I am no longer intimidated by okra! I can whip you up some fried okra, roasted okra, grilled okra and some okra pickles. And I love them in any variety! This is one of my favorites though. Tasty and great as an appetizer, an afternoon snack or as you see it here. I love to use these to garnish martinis or just about any meal. Give it a try!
In each jar:
3/4 lb okra, washed and prepared
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp. mustard seed
1-2 hot peppers
4 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
6 Tbsp. salt
Wash the okra and remove any excess stems. Boil jars, caps and lids to sterilize. Begin the boiling solution. Place garlic and mustard seeds in hot jars. Fill the bottom of the jars with okra pointing up. Next, place a second layer of okra pointing down about and between the first layer. Be certain to not have the okra ends sticking above the canning line on the jar.
Put the peppers in last, pressed down against the side of the jar. Fill jars with the hot boiling solution from above. Place caps and rings on jars tightly. Place jars in a hot water bath to 185 degrees. Hold at that temperature for 7-8 minutes. Removed jars and invert on a kitchen towel for no less than 5 minutes. Turn jars right side up and allow to cool. Make sure all jars are sealed (ie. the center of the lid is depressed or you heard a pop.) If one does not seal, refrigerate and eat in the next 2 weeks. The sealed containers should be allowed to cure for 2 weeks before eating them. They can then be stored for up to 1 year.