PICKLED OKRA/PICKLED ASPARAGUS: There's a definite population of picklers out there. There are people who enjoy pickling and eating eggs, pigs feet, beets,and, of course, cucumbers. But you can also pickle more offbeat stuff like okra, and even asparagus. The pickled okra recipe comes to me from the Amish settlement outside of Beeville, Texas. And this is a jar of pickled okra that one of the ladies in the settlement was nice enough to share with me. Yum! Below is the recipe she gave me. And below that is a pickled asparagus recipe given to me by an Amish woman in Ohio.
8 to 9 pounds fresh okra pods, washed and trimmed
3 /4 cup canning or pickling salt
3 quarts water
1 quart white vinegar
2 tablespoons dill seed
10 to 12 cloves garlic
Pack the okra into hot, sterilized pint-sized canning jars, For this quantity of okra, plan on 10 to 12 jars. Add 1 whole garlic clove to each jar of okra. Place the canning or pickling salt, water, vinegar, and dill seed in a large, non-reactive pot, and bring the solution to a boil. Using a funnel, pour the pickling solution into each jar of okra, leaving 1 /4 to ½ inch of headspace. Apply the lids and bands to the canning jars, and place them in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove the jars from the water bath and allow them to cool. Check the jars after they have cooled to make sure the lids have sealed. Wait approximately 1 week before using.
Break off the tough ends of the asparagus. Cut the spears into 3-½ inch lengths. Place the asparagus in a large enamel or stainless steel bowl. Combine cold water and ¼ cup salt; cover asparagus with the solution. Let stand uncovered for 2 hours. Drain the asparagus and rinse under cool water. Pat dry. Combine the vinegar, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, mustard seed, dill seed, and onion rings in an enamel or stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Pack the cooled asparagus, tips up, in hot, sterilized canning jars (pintsize; wide-mouth jars are probably easier to pack), making sure to leave ½ inch of headroom. The best way to do this is to line the asparagus around the inner edge of the jar first and then fill in the center. Tuck a hot red chile pepper and 1 dill stalk into each jar. Pour hot pickling liquid into jars, filling to within ¼ inch of the rims, making sure all spears are thoroughly covered. Wipe rims with a clean damp cloth and seal with lids. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature, check seal, label, and store in a cool dark place for up to 12 months. Yield: 2 pints