Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Small Batch Pickled Okra with Indian Spices in Honeyed Vinegar

After a recent trip to our local farmer's market, the Columbia Greenmarket, I came home with a small bounty of one of my Nashvillian husband's favorite vegetables. Okra! 

I decided to make a small batch of pickles with them and I'm thrilled with the results. After brining in their solution for one week, these okra pickles are subtile (i.e not too vinegary) yet extremely flavorfulAnother bonus, somehow the pickling process produces okra that's perfectly crisp/tender and not at all slimy! Woo hoo!

I used a pickling solution I found at The Gastronomic Gardener. It's a really wonderful solution because it's not too vinegary, so you can still taste the flavor of the thing you are pickling above the acidity. I definitely plan to use it again for other veggies.

One final tip, you can use this solution to make a mixed batch of pickles with pretty much whatever veggies you have on hand. Also, if you don't want to bother with the hot water process, just pour the solution and whatever spices/flavorings you like over your veggies, let everything cool and then refrigerate. Just be sure to eat these quick-refrigerator pickles within a week or two because they aren't hermetically sealed/sanitized. 

Honeyed Vinegar Pickling Solution 
Recipe adapted from The Gastronomic Gardener
Yields approximately 4 pints 
3 cups distilled vinegar 
1 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Prepare the honeyed vinegar pickling solution by bringing all the ingredients to a boil, then cutting off the heat. Ideally everything will range from hot to room temp as you move through these steps so there are no major temperature shifts that might cause your glass jars to shatter.

Okra Pickles with Indian Spices in Honeyed Vinegar
Yield 4 pints
about 40 okra (8-12 or so per pint jar)=about 2 lbs 
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Tablespoon mustard seeds
Tablespoon nigella seeds
2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric powder, divided
4 inch piece of ginger, sliced thinly (about 4 scant Tablespoons)
*Enough honeyed pickling solution to cover the okra leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.

Rinse the okra and drain it on a clean cloth.

Bring enough water to a boil to cover the size caning jars you are using by at least 1/2 inch. Drop in the jars you're using, uncovered, and let them scald for 10 minutes to sanitize. Drain and set aside on a clean cloth.

Heat a tablespoon on neutral vegetable oil in a small frying pan until it's hot but not smoking. Add all the seeds (but not the turmeric ) and fry until fragrant. About 30-40 seconds. Use a sputter guard as the mustard seeds will pop and shoot out of the pan. Ouch!

Slide as many okra as can fit, varying them top to tail, into your pint jars. Note: When purchasing the okra, try to pick ones that are relatively similar in size so they'll fit somewhat uniformly.

To each jar of okra, add 1/4 teaspoon on turmeric, a scant Tablespoon of ginger, and about a quarter of the fried seeds in oil. Don't go nuts, just try to get these things somewhat evenly distributed between the four pints.

Cover the okra with brine so there is 1/4 inch of headspace at the top. Use a chopstick or canning tool to disperse the seeds and turmeric in the solution and remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rim and cover being sure not to spin the ring too tightly. Turn it just beyond the point at which it catches.

Lower the jar carefully into the boiling water and process for 15 minutes. Remove carefully with tongs, don't tip it or worry about the water on top, and set on the cloth to cool and seal.

For more info on canning, see my previous post on Pickled Beets with Cumin and Cloves and watch this great video!