I do not like okra. It is near the top of the list of vegetables I
detest don’t like. As a lifelong vegetarian, it is a bit embarrassing to admit that that list is rather long. After all, I’m supposed to like okra, kale, beets, Brussels sprouts etc. aren’t I? I can tolerate some of them as long as they are prepared in certain specific ways. For instance:
I like beets if they are pickled. Pickled beets are great in salads.
There is a variety or two of kale I don’t mind, but only if it is raw. Red Russian kale is tasty in salads when young and fresh.
It’s not so much the flavor of okra that I find objectionable but more the texture and, specifically, the slime. The only way I enjoy okra is if it is grilled or roasted, preferably with toasted sesame oil, kosher salt and black pepper. With that cooking method slime is not an issue.
Some people I know rave about how much they love pickled okra. I had never tried them so couldn’t say whether I liked them pickled or not. As a 32 plus year resident of the American South I should at least give them a try. Since Faye likes okra I decided to pickle some by fermentation.
I loaded the fermentation crock starting with mustard seeds, coriander seeds and dried Kashmiri chilis. I put those on the bottom to discourage them from floating to the surface. There are other traditional pickling spices that could have been used but I decided to keep it simple.
Next into the crock went the trimmed okra pods followed by the brine (2 tablespoons of kosher salt per quart of water). Instead of adding onions or garlic I added some brine from a batch of fermented ramps for both flavor and a boost of lactobacillus bacteria.
To keep the vegetables submerged in the brine I placed cabbage leaves over top of the okra and pressed it all down with ceramic weights.
Five days of fermentation passed and it was time to learn the results. Things looked as they should. There wasn’t any mold on top (white mold is normal and okay). The cabbage leaves had released a lot of their color into the brine leaving them a pale pink. There was the pronounced garlicky aroma of ramps that hopefully didn’t manifest overwhelmingly in the flavor.
Hoping for the best I took a few bites out of one and then another. I thought the flavor of the pickled okra was excellent but the slimy texture was too much for my liking. Faye’s reaction was, “These are good!!” (Her tone indicated at least one and maybe two exclamation marks).
There are now two quart jars taking up space in the refrigerator. I hope Faye has a sustained craving for brine pickled okra. I’m looking forward to enjoying the slime free pickled cabbage leaves (sauerkraut!).