Pickled Okra, A Southern Standard



It’s summer time on the Texas gulf coast and, just as the northern U.S. has real winters, we have REAL summers here. We long for a cool 85 degrees F day this time of year - a temperature that would bring other regions to their knees. Our pace slows down and so does the production in the garden. The garden goes into stasis and holds on in hopes of surviving the heat to start producing again in September or October.

The lack of rain lately, after being very wet a couple of months ago, has plunged some of the state back into drought. The heat and lack of rain have ground production to a standstill here at the ol' farm on the cement pond. For the most part, all that remains standing are the southern garden classics.

In our case, that means okra and purple hull peas. The occasional cantaloupe, tomato, cucumber or pepper is quickly sliced and eaten. The purple hull peas get shelled and frozen in a communal ziplock bag. The okra... well, okra is a bit more of a challenge.

I grew up in a southern Texas household strongly influenced by over 100 years of Texas-German farmers, infused with a Middle Eastern culinary tradition from ancestors that emigrated here in the late 1800s from Syria and settled in a backwater known as Houston. In that household, okra was presented in two ways: stewed, in the Middle Eastern style, or pickled, as it would have been on the farm in central Texas. I really liked the stewed okra over rice but never really cared for the pickled version, despite its popularity in the family.

It wasn’t until my oldest daughter and a bumper crop of okra last year that I decided to revisit pickled okra. Pickling okra is as easy as it comes, once you know what you are doing. After a couple of flops, I started producing some pretty popular pints of okra.

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