I have a bed in my garden set aside for all that is interesting and unusual. It is my fun bed where I can try things out. Although it does seem to have given over a bit of space to tomatoes and peppers that couldn’t fit in their garden and I just couldn’t be without them.
In my odds and sods garden this year – aside from the tomatoes and peppers I have an eggplant with it’s killer spikes. You don’t see those in the store. Maybe they shave them off. Then there is the stevia, but that is on the hush hush. I have to plant it in secret locations each year or the kids will find it and eat all the leaves. I have had popcorn in there and now the stalks need to come out as the ears are drying nicely in the greenhouse. And with any luck growing big under the earth is peanuts, which will stay there until the frost. Hopefully this will be ages away so my peanuts get the longest growing season to get to a descent size.
But also in there is a row of okra. I have grown it determinedly for several years in a row, with limited success. I say limited as I’ve seen videos of okra growing in climates more suited and it is a huge plant. Mine are always a bit spindly. Having said that, being in the shadow of the tomatoes probably isn’t helping. Maybe next season I’ll move them.
Not being a commonly eaten vegetable around here I have turned to the internet for inspiration. The first year I made a gumbo. It tasted ok, but having never had a proper gumbo before I am still left wondering if it was any good. Then last year I made an Indian curry and while that was also tasty, a homemade curry never really compares to a proper one. Either that or it is my cooking skills that are left wanting.
Then this year while I was in America I found my inspiration. At one of the after parties there was an amazing array of finger food on offer. Oh it was such a feast, and in the corner was a platter holding something I had never even thought of before – Pickled Okra. Oh my goodness they were so good – I could have eaten the lot. But I held back for manners sake!
But my mind instantly jumped back home to my odds and sods bed and I just knew what I was going to do with my curious crop of green okra. I had been popping them in the freezer as they came to the right size and a quick google search reassured me that once defrosted properly they could be pickled. Something to do with their internal structure. But I had both, fresh and frozen so we shall see.
Then I went back to my old friend the internet and looked for recipes that seem to most reflect what I had eaten at the party and decided the key ingredients were chillies, garlic, dill seeds, white vinegar, sugar and salt.
Depending on the amount you are making – and I only have a meagre harvest, you need a ratio of 1 cup of white vinegar, 1/8 of a cup of sugar and 1/16 of a cup of salt. Then you can put in as much finely diced chilli and garlic and dill seed as you want. I went a bit shy, as I didn’t want to overwhelm it with the heat. Boil it all together for 5 minutes.
Then pack the okra into sterile jars. Some of my okra may be a bit big, but the okra on offer in America was a generous size so maybe they will be ok. Seal with a sterile lid. Make sure you get a good seal. You will know this if the lid ‘pops’ as the jars cool down.
Once again I offer caution with this process as preserving can be a bit of a mine field. However these are high acid with the vinegar so the risk is lessened. But if you are unsure then please consult experts in these matters.
I shall leave mine for about a month and then we shall gobble them up and memories of my time in America shall come flooding back. I can hardly wait.
Come again soon – we are expecting Cyclone Pam of category 5 status on Monday so hopefully the garden survives unharmed.
Sarah the Gardener : o )