I seemed to have finished the great dining room project just in time for our favorite summer veggies to hit the farmer’s market. Which means, it’s time I start getting serious about putting up some food.
First up is corn. I buy about a dozen or so ears every week. I bring them home, shuck them, drop them in boiling water and we feast. What doesn’t get eaten in the next day or so will be chopped off the cob & bagged, two ears at a time, and stashed in the freezer. I throw corn into soups & pot pies all winter long and I like having a freezer full of local corn to use for this. Putting up a few ears here & a few there adds up before you know it – and breaks the task down into manageable bits.
Like purple pole beans, red okra turns green when it is cooked – and when pickled, both vegetables turn the brine a shade of red. With last summer’s purple beans, the brine was a pale pink. The brine with these pickles is a deeper, darker color – I’m guessing in part because I used cider vinegar while the beans were in regular white vinegar and in part because of the deeper color the okra was to begin with. Either way, the jars are pretty, don’t you think?
When people tell me they don’t like okra because it’s slimy, I always respond with they haven’t had it cooked correctly if it’s been slimy. When preparing okra, don’t wash or slice it until just before you plan on throwing it in a pot, otherwise it will get slimy. When pickled, okra is not slimy – although I have noticed that if the pickles sit too long on your shelf (more than a year), they do tend to start getting slimy. Okra is one of those vegetables that’s really best fresh, in season. I will do a dozen or more jars of pickled okra and I’ll freeze a few small bags worth to be used in making gumbo this winter, although I prefer to make gumbo in the summer when all the vegetables are fresh and I can get my hands on some good crabs to include as well. Okra is really a vegetable best eaten fresh or pickled. Pickled it’s sort of transcendent.
Having put up 10 pounds of blueberries, 15 pounds of cherries & a batch of pickled beets while the dining room was under renovation, I’ve decided to reward myself with a break from canning this week. Tomatoes & peaches are starting to come in and thankfully, I’ve got some time to put those up. In the meantime, we are enjoying the plethora of fresh fruits & vegetables that are available. Dinners these days are vegetable plates – green beans, sliced tomatoes, roasted beets, fried okra – rounded out with some home made bread & local cheese. There is watermelon, peaches & cherries to snack on. Blueberries to be stirred into yogurt for breakfast. Summertime and the eating is oh so good….