Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pickled okra

It seems like all that I have been talking about on facebook for what feels like forever not.  Those of you that are friends with me on there I am sorry if you are burnt out on hearing about okra.  To be honest I am too.  It just turned into this huge undertaking that felt as if it might never end.  And not that it is all done I find myself wishing I had more because it turned out pretty darn good.
But don't take my word for it there have already been several jars eaten and even some given away(or stolen...I'm still a little fuzzy there)  :)
Let me go back and start at the beginning.  Last week on Thursday I got a text from Steph telling me that Conrad's had okra on sale, just $18 for half a bushel.  Oh I do love okra and I haven't made any pickled okra in a few years.  I wanted some.  She said she would drop it by the house later that night.  When she came to the house and walked into my kitchen and sat down this box of okra  (yep that one up there^^^)  I was thinking wow that's a lot of okra and asked if she was taking half of it seeing that I only paid for 1/2 a bushel.  She said no.  This is half a bushel.  I paid her the money I owed her and we visited a bit about her bee class (can't wait til she gets some honey) and she left.  That's when my brain really started working...I don't know what I am ever going to do with all that okra, pickle it, fry it, bake it, make stews with it.  Geez that a lot of okra.  And to top it off this is my work week.  How am I gonna find time to get it all put up?

So Friday came and all day the only thing I could think about at work was the box of okra sitting at home needing to be put up.  I was excited to get home and make some pickles.  Well when I got home of course Everyone had plans and well a motorcycle ride with the hubs sounded too fun so I put off making the okra.  I needed to go to the store for some more dill seed anyway so while out we could stop and get that and I had Saturday night to mess with okra. 
Saturday at work again all I could think about was pickling and I knew I couldn't keep putting it off. I wanted it done and so after work and after dinner Val helped me with a batch of okra.  She was more than a little help.  I love that she wants to learn all this stuff and enjoys cooking as much as she does.  The whole time we were boiling jars, measuring spices and stuffing jars. I got to share my memories of my grandma Hilton and her canning days.  Oh how doing this sort of stuff floods me with memories of her. 
I remember more than one summer getting to go with her to her best friend Patty's house to spend the day canning.  I really don't remember the recipes or much of the process.  I do remember how they would make jars and jars of beets, and tomato preserves and I remember how I watched her make those things thinking (and telling her) I would not eat those that's gross to put sugar in the tomatoes.  But I do also remember that those tomato  preserves were fantastic and I loved them.  I remember her running me out of the kitchen more than once for being under her feet while she was moving hot jars.  I learned very quickly that you could stay in the kitchen all day watching grandma can if you sat under the kitchen table and stayed out of the way.  I remember watching her like that for hours. 
Oh my look how easy I get off track.  Making okra with Val was so much fun.  We took lots of pictures and tweaked the recipe a bit to "make it our own, because that's what all good cooks do mom"
Every recipe I found said wait one week, or wait one month before opening jars except the recipe we used.  There were no restrictions and on Sunday Val and Stephen were about to go nuts waiting to "taste test" our first batch of okra.  Turns out they were damn good. 
I got home on Sunday from work and Stephen informed me that the okra was attracting a ton of gnats so to stop the gnats from taking over our house he cleared a shelf in the fridge and put the okra in there.  Turns out the fridge was way too cold for the okra and some of it was a bit frozen.  that makes it soggy and gross and not suitable for pickling or frying.  So After some very time consuming  sorting I ended up making 21 pint jars of pickled okra.  I got 2 & 1/2 pounds of chopped okra for frying (which a pound and a half was made at dinner Monday with Nikki, Andrew, Cathy & Kashly)
and the dear chickens that wonder my yard got their tummies full with the bad stuff so really nothing went to waste not even the gross soggy okra because the chickens loved the treat.
Oh and if any of you know how to make this  ~~~>
not happen to every jar please let me know.  I packed and packed and packed each and every jar as full as I possibly could and no matter how much I stuffed in the jar they still shrink up like crazy after cooking during the processing that it looks like there aren't enough in the jar.  UGH this makes me nuts.
Any way that is what is going on in m y world these days.  Ive been busy working and when I'm not working I've been canning.  I also made ten 8oz jars of grape jelly yesterday as well. 
Back in January i posted on facebook and here in my blog that if people commented on my post they would receive a home made gift from me...well some of you keep your eyes open cause you could be getting some of this stuff   :)
I know this isn't the coolest thing to do anymore.  people don't really spend time preserving and putting up food like they did back in the day. but this is not only a great way to spend time with your kids teaching them something your grandma showed you but it can save you money and you know exactly what you are putting in your food and into your family.  I like doing my part to feed my family safe healthy food, while saving a bit of money.  So if you're interested here is the recipe I used to make the okra
Pickled Okra
canning kit, including canner, jar lifter, and canning rack
7 (1-pt.) canning jars
3- pounds small fresh okra
7- small fresh green chili peppers
7- garlic cloves
7- teaspoons dill seeds
4- cups white vinegar
4- cups water
1/2- cup pickling salt
1/4- cup sugar
1. Bring canner half-full with water to a boil; simmer. Meanwhile, place jars in a large stockpot with water to cover; bring to a boil, and simmer. Place bands and lids in a large saucepan with water to cover; bring to a boil, and simmer. Remove hot jars 1 at a time using jar lifter.

2. Pack okra into hot jars, filling to 1/2 inch from top. Place 1 pepper, 1 garlic clove, and 1 tsp. dill seeds in each jar. Bring vinegar, salt, sugar, and 4 cups water to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour over okra, filling to 1/2 inch from top.

3. Wipe jar rims; cover at once with metal lids, and screw on bands (snug but not too tight). Place jars in canning rack, and place in simmering water in canner. Add additional boiling water as needed to cover by 1 to 2 inches.

4. Bring water to a rolling boil; boil 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool jars in canner 5 minutes. Transfer jars to a cutting board; cool 12 to 24 hours. Test seals of jars by pressing center of each lid. If lids do not pop, jars are properly sealed. Store in a cool, dry place at room temperature up to 1 year.

The only thing I did differently was I put the spices and such in the bottom of the jar before the okra, not for any reason except I like the way it looks better this way. 

Thanks for reading my rambling today.  Let me know if you make your own pickled okra.  I would like to know how you feel about the recipe or if you have  your own to share, feel free to share it in the comment section below. 

Have a great week.  See you all here again soon.  This time I promise!

Love you all


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