As Fall is finally hitting us here along the South Carolina-Georgia border, my CSA basket has been filled with a lot of okra the past few weeks. Like many Southerners, I love okra. I love to fry it with a crispy coating of seasoned rice flour, I love to bake it at high heat after massaging it with olive oil and sea salt, and I love to pickle it (Sorry, I just can’t stand it in gumbo. I don’t have many texture issues, but the sliminess it produces in gumbo is one of them.). While perusing Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation I found that fermented okra can be quite a lovely thing. Since I had eaten all the fried okra I could care for this summer, I decided to give it a try.
I took a suggestion from Katz’s book and trimmed the stems a little bit, leaving the caps intact on the okra, stuffed them in jars with a couple of cloves of garlic, some pickling spices, a jalapeno, and covered it with brine. I let them ferment on the kitchen counter for three days and tried them. They hadn’t quite achieved the texture I was going for, so I left them for about another week. Over that next week, the slime from the okra came forth and the white mold-looking (although it isn’t mold and is perfectly safe) gunk that can sometimes accumulate on top of fermented veggies showed up. I scraped off the gunk, poured out the liquid, washed off my okra and put them in a fresh batch of brine and popped them in the fridge. They are a little slimy, but I’m happy with how they turned out.
My garden is pretty much done for the summer, though there are a few green cherry tomatoes still growing on one of my tomato vines. I am going to pick those this morning and ferment them as well. I hear that fermented green tomatoes turn into a very sour delight that I can’t wait to try!