Friday, August 19, 2011

The Latest Canning - Okra, Dill Relish

Uncle Charles gave me a sack of okra the other day. I was looking forward to pickling some, but these were a tad too large for that, so I canned them for gumbo. Yum. The seed pods turned brown, and I wonder if I had added a bit of vinegar or lemon juice that wouldn't have happened. Anyone know?

Okra is such a funny vegetable. So many people are turned off by the slime and won't try it or only eat it fried. Yet there are ways to get rid of the slime, and it helps with thickening a good gumbo, which I absolutely love. I also love popping the little seeds.

This is the way I got turned onto eating okra that wasn't fried, because I was a slime avoider, too. When I was in the Air Force, my best friend was a teeny petite gal, with white blonde hair, named Dove. Perfect angel material you'd think. She actually could beat a sailor in a cursing contest. Anyway, one day Dove declared she couldn't wait to get home and have some buttered okra. Stopped me dead in my tracks. Dove wanted to eat slimy okra in butter? So she drug me to her house after work and showed me how to lightly steam it to just barely done, bathe it in butter and lightly salt it. I was a convert and haven't looked back. Delicious stuff, that okra.

Another thing I made was a batch of dill cucumber relish. I like dill relish on a hot dog better than sweet relish. I found a recipe to adapt and made this by shredding the cucumber and onions on a grater. Right at the end of cooking it, I added a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch and thickened it a bit.

You'll likely notice some glaring things the USDA would have cows over with my dill relish. First thing is that I used non-approved, previously-used jars and lids. This is another one of those things that "my mother did for years and none of us have died" that sends the food scientists into fits. DO NOT get the idea that I am encouraging anyone to do this. It's my own personal choice.

Shredded cucumber and onion
The second thing I did was add a little thickening by adding cornstarch. There are density issues in canning thick foods that can cause problems down the road. I also think cornstarch is not supposed to hold up well in the long run. I didn't add more thickening than I've seen in recipes vetted by the Ball Blue Book.

I'll just have to wait and see how well the cornstarch holds up since this is the first time I've tried it. The author of the recipe I mostly followed didn't make any comment about thickening breakdown, but I have no clue as to his/her experience with the recipe. Too many times people post things on their first try and never follow up if they realize later it was a flop. Since the relish tasted so good, I really hope it does age well.

Another batch of canned goods I've done courtesy of Uncle Charles is a batch of garlic dill pickle spears. They are so pretty in the jars my mouth waters just looking at them. I added a handful of green pepper and onion slices to each jar. These are the treat of the jar. You never add enough to take away the joy of getting some. There should always be a skirmish over the rare treats in pickled things, ya know!


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Jola Gayle said...

You're quite welcome. Thank YOU for taking the time to leave a comment. As you say, "Hope it helps."

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