September 7, 2011

Okra Pickles and Jalapeno Carrots

The thing about making pickles is that you won't know how they turn out until you let them pickle, which may take a few days or weeks. We were impatient with our Dill Pickles and tried them the next day.  All four of us liked them.  And in this picky household, that might be a first.  They weren't too vinegary yet, crisp, with a strong dill flavor.

The other thing about making pickles (refrigerator pickles at least) is that it's a very quick way to preserve produce. 

Grace's favorite vegetable is okra.  She doesn't like it fried, but she thinks it's a real treat boiled or cooked with tomatoes and corn.  Go figure! This Saturday we tried pickling it for the first time.

I've been craving those jalapeno carrots that taco trucks serve, so I also pickled a jar of carrots with two jalapenos.  Lastly, I picked a cucumber from the garden, cut it in spears and added it to the original jar of dill pickles to replace those we'd eaten the night before.

Refrigerator Pickling Tips
Clean your jars and lids well in hot soapy water or in the dishwasher.
Use the freshest produce possible and clean it well.
Store refrigerator pickles in the refrigerator and eat within one month.
Pickling doesn't soften food, so it may be necessary to cook your vegetable slightly before pickling.
Some recipes advise that a brine should be boiled before pouring over the food (hot pack), and some don't (cold pack).
If you want pickles that will keep for winter, find a trusted canning recipe... or don't.

Pickled Okra
Flavored with dill, but you could add whole mustard seed, peppercorns, onions, etc. 

Clean okra well and cook in boiling water one minute to soften. Rinse in cool water to stop the cooking.  In a clean mason jar pack one sprig of dill, one peeled garlic clove and as much okra as will fit.  Top with almost a tablespoon of salt and fill the jar half full with apple cider vinegar.  Then fill with filtered water leaving a 1/2" of headspace.  Replace lid and refrigerate at least a day or two before eating.

Jalapeno Carrots
Be warned:  These can get spicy.  Serve as an edible garnish with Mexican food.  Use the onions as a pizza topping.

Scrub and peel carrots.  Cook in boiling water one to three minutes, then rinse in cold water.  Cut to desired size, large coins or thin spears.  Pack in a clean dry mason jar with 1 or 2 halved jalapenos, a couple sprigs of cilantro and/or Mexican oregano, a couple of onion wedges, a peeled clove of garlic and the juice of one lime.  Top with almost a tablespoon of salt, then fill with half apple cider vinegar and half water, leaving 1/2" headspace.  Replace lid and refrigerate.

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