Friday, March 14, 2014

Okra Sour Pickles

I was at Rosemeade market last Saturday, and noticed they had a new crop of fresh Okra from South Texas.  I love pickled Okra, and now is the opportunity to make Okra Sour Pickles.  So I bought 1.5 pounds of fresh Okra, and 1.5 pounds of small pickling Cucumbers.  The brine I make is roughly 5% salinity, and to make it boil 1.5 Quarts of Vitalized Water, and added 4.5 tablespoons of Sea Salt.  Then let the brine come back down to room temperature.  This is important because we do not want to cook the Okra, or Cucumbers.
This time I am using over the counter Pickling Spice, Garlic, and one dried Cayenne Chile per half gallon bottle.  I'm going for a milder more familiar taste in the pickles this time.  Some of my previous batches I have made way too hot, even for me, so I am concentrating on getting more of a pickle flavor this time.
I added about a palmfull of the pickling spice to each jar, one crushed Garlic clove, and one whole dry Cayenne Chile to each jar.  Wash the Okra, and Cucumbers thoroughly.  The Okra goes in whole, and I trim the ends off of the Cucumbers to expedite osmosis in the Cucumbers.  Then we'll cover them with brine, and weigh the veggies down with some clean, smaller bottles with tap water in them.  Remember this is a Lacto-Fermentation process, so you don't need to be nutso about sterilizing everything, just make it clean.  The Brine and the Lactobacilli will keep the process under control.  Keep Calm, Lactobacilli know best...
Here is where this process gets exciting.  These bottles will sit on the counter top, at about 70 F for 5 days to start the Lacto-Fermentation process.  This is where the Lactobacilli culture starts and produces the Lactic Acid that make the pickles sour.  You want the culture to thrive first, the calm it down with refrigeration.  An interesting thing happens here.  You can actually see the culture working.  The brine will develop a cloudiness, and this is the Lactobacilli working their magic.  Then when the culture reaches the target acidity we'll put the jars in the refrigerator to temper the Brine.  What happens is the Lactobacilli will go dormant (goto sleep) and settle to the bottom of the jar, leaving a clear brine.  The Lactic Acid will continue working to pickle the Okra, and Cucumbers transforming them into Sour Pickles.  Now we'll let the pickles sit for another couple weeks to finish them.  The vegetables are still alive at the end of this process, and have not been cooked.  The brine is teeming with Lactobacilli life, these are living Pickles, and are a thousand times better than anything produced in a acid cooking process.  Damn I'm hungry again...

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