Tag Archives: fermentation

Okra Pickles and Fermented Green Tomatoes

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!


Several months ago I decided that I wanted to make my own kombucha. I had bought some from a lady at my local online farmers market a couple of years ago and I couldn’t help but remember how she talked about how easy and affordable it was to make. Being the nerd that I am, I did some research and found out that one used to be able to buy a bottle of kombucha, pour it into a jar of sweet tea, wait a few weeks and then enjoy your own homebrewed buch as well as having a lovely SCOBY to use thereafter. But due to an FDA regulation that was enacted a few years ago, the commercially marketed kombucha that you buy nowadays has been filtered to the point that it cannot propagate a new SCOBY and, therefore, it is really only good to drink that one time. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to pay $3.00 or more for one drink it better lead to a buzz down the road. I decided to go online and purchase a SCOBY so that I could make my own yummy, nutritious kombucha.

For those who may not be too familiar with the acronym, SCOBY is short for a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. In other words, it’s a fermentation culture. If you look at a SCOBY through the side of a clear glass jar, it can look kind of like a jellyfish… an alien jellyfish even. Shortly after I made my first batch of buch we had a major ice storm and were without electricity for a few days. I knew that the kombucha was supposed to stay between **76°-82°**. If it gets too much cooler, it can grow mold. When we got our power back on I was afraid that it had gone moldy, but I contacted the person I got it from, sent her some pictures and it was actually fine.
I originally brewed my buch in a one gallon jar that I covered with a coffee filter held in place with a rubber band. Like anything brewing with yeast, you have to keep light, especially sunlight off of it. I eventually found an old water cooler at an antique store and snatched it for less than $30! I cleaned it up and replaced the spigot. Then I placed a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), a small amount of brewed kombucha, and a LOT of organic sweet tea in the cooler… did I mention that my old water cooler/new kombucha continuous brewer holds five gallons?

So now I drink around three glasses of kombucha each day, especially if I’m out working in the yard. It’s so yummy and refreshing!

Recently it started getting acidic very quickly. You see, SCOBYs reproduce every so often. That’s really great if you want to set up several jars or continuous brewers, or if you want to share SCOBYs with your friends. I hadn’t taken a good look at my SCOBY since setting up my continuous brewer, so you can imagine my surprise when I found that it had reproduced many times and I had SCOBYs about 6” in thickness and around 14” in diameter! No wonder the buch was so acidic! So now I need to thin them down. I think I’ll take on that challenge this weekend.