This week, with the okra and cayenne peppers in Maggie's garden in full bloom, we decided to get to busy in the kitchen! We pickled okra and made cayenne pepper and crushed red pepper. Below is a short how-to on preserving both of these vegetables if you find yourself with an excess of them!
If you're new to canning, pickling vegetables is a great place to start - it's simple and fairly difficult to mess up. Don't have okra in your garden? You can pickle almost any vegetable! Carrots, onions, cucumbers (of course!), asparagus, cauliflower, green beans, a variety of peppers, and even eggplant! Pinterest or Google can provide you with a plethora of recipes, but if you have questions about safety, shelf life, or recipes, be sure to consult your local extension office.
Okay, down to business! Here's our pickled okra! This recipe will make 4 pints.
3.5lbs okra, washed and trimmed
3 cups water
3 cups vinegar, 5% acidity
1/3 cup canning salt
4 cloves garlic
4 jalapeños, halved and seeded
2 tbsp mustard seeds
2 tsp dill seed
Step 1: Gather ingredients and sanitize everything in your dishwasher or wash in very hot water - your cutting board, measuring cups, canning jars, lids, rings, and canning tools. Set your waterbath canner 3/4 full of water on the stove to start heating your water.
Step 2: Combine water, vinegar, salt, mustard seed, and dill seed into a medium-sized pan and bring to a low boil on the stove.
Step 3: Place 2 jalapeño halves and 1 clove of garlic into each hot pint jar. Then, stuff the jars as full of okra as you can - they will shrink once they are processed in the waterbath canner.
Step 4: Pour your hot mixture over the okra, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top. Wipe the rims with a clean cloth. Place lids on top and hand-tighten rings.
Step 5: Place your jars into the water-bath canner (using canning tongs is ideal!) and let them boil for a full 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the jars and place them in a space that can remain undisturbed for 24 hours. After 24 hours, press on the lid - if it does not "pop" then your okra will remain preserved for 12 months!
There you go! Beautiful pickled okra to enjoy even when the snow is flying! Next up, our cayenne peppers ..
Did you know that cayenne pepper and crushed red pepper come from the same pepper?
Step 1: Pull the green tops off the peppers. Dry your peppers in a dehydrator until they are crunchy - a good way to tell is if they "crack" when you break one in half. This will take at least 12 hours.
Step 2: Put your dried peppers in a food processor and process at least 45 seconds.
Step 3: Pour your ground peppers into a fine mesh sieve over a large mixing bowl. Sift out the cayenne pepper until the mixture left in the sieve does not look "dusty." What's left in the sieve is your crushed red pepper.
Step 4: Finally, store your cayenne pepper and crushed red pepper in separate airtight containers.
*The most important part of this process is to protect your face and your hands. Wear protective eyewear, a face mask, gloves, and open windows and doors for ventilation.*
And that's all from our kitchen this week. Hope to see you on the farm soon!