The tide is rising and it seems to be green! We’re up to our eyeballs in okra and green beans here on the farm to the point where we almost can’t see an end in sight. But, we know better. As the heat and humidity slowly roll across the piedmont region of Virginia, okra and green bean plants seem to wake up (even though all the heat and humidity ever seem to do for me is make me sleepy). As these two plants chug along into late summer/early fall, we tend to experience a temporary glut of greenery. So what do you do with all of these extra summer gifts?
I would love to sit here and say that I love canning and preserving my own food, but honestly, I tend to run out of time to make anything fancier than a plate of nachos most nights. This is why I love refrigerator pickles. Easy Peasy! Here’s a quick and easy recipe for refrigerator pickled okra:
4 cups okra
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
1/4 cup sea salt
1 tsp dried dill
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
First, you make a simple brine by combining the vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and cooking on medium heat making sure to stir until the salt is completely dissolved. Next, allow this brine to cool. Pack your okra into large glass jars as tightly as you can and divide the garlic cloves amongst the jars. Add your dill and red pepper flakes to the brine and pour it into jars until they are full. Lastly, place lids on the jars tightly and store in the refrigerator. Your easy peasy pickled okra will be ready to eat in about two weeks but will last in the vinegar for a month or two.
You can also pickle green beans. But since I’ve already confessed that I rarely have the time or patience to properly pickle anything, please forgive me as I share this Pickled Green Bean recipe I’m borrowing from allrecipes.com:
2 ½ cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups water
¼ cup salt
1 clove of garlic, peeled
2 ½ pounds of fresh green beans
6 large sprigs of dill
¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes (Optional)
Inspect six 1/2-pint jars for cracks and rings for rust, discarding any defective ones. Immerse in simmering water. Wash new, unused lids and rings in warm soapy water.
While the jars are being sterilized, stir together vinegar, water, and salt in a large saucepan. Add garlic and bring to a rolling boil over high heat.
Trim green beans to 1/4-inch shorter than the jars.
Remove jars from simmering water. Place 1 sprig of dill and 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes in each jar. Pack in green beans standing on end.
Ladle boiling brine (leave out garlic) into the jars, filling within 1/4-inch of the tops. Seal jars with lids and rings.
Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil and lower jars 2 inches apart into the boiling water using a holder. Pour in more boiling water to cover jars by at least 1 inch. Bring to a simmer (do not boil), cover, and process for 10 minutes.
Remove jars from the stockpot and cool to room temperature, 8 to 12 hours. Test jars for a good seal by pressing on the center of the lid — it should not move.
Let green beans ferment for 2 to 3 weeks in a cool, dark space before eating.
If any jars do not seal properly, refrigerate and eat those beans within a week.
Bake them and make them into chips!
If you frequented our Wednesday markets last year you may have had the opportunity to catch our Chef Devon doing a cooking demo where he offered dried okra chips and an eggplant dip. I only remember this exact cooking demo because it was so tasty! Here’s how to make okra chips:
1 pound fresh okra
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Rinse the okra and slice each pod lengthwise. Place the sliced okra in a large bowl with enough water to completely cover. Add the vinegar and mix well. Let stand for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Drain and rinse the sliced okra. Pat dry with paper towels.
Place the prepared okra in a large bowl and drizzle over the olive oil. Sprinkle in the salt and garlic powder. Toss until all pods are coated evenly with the oil and seasonings.
Put the seasoned okra on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time.
Remove from the oven and lower the temperature to 170 degrees. When the oven has cooled to 170, return the pan to the oven and prop the door open. Continue to bake for 2-3 hours or until crisp. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 30 minutes.
May be stored at room temp for 2-3 days.
Green Bean Chips require a few more steps but are worth trying on a rainy day. Here’s a recipe I found from wholenewmom.com:
5 pounds of green beans
1/3 cup oil (melted coconut oil preferred)
4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Place green beans in a large bowl. If using frozen green beans, simply allow them to thaw in a bowl (optional - see notes below). If using fresh beans, you will need to blanch them first.
Pour oil on top of the beans. If using coconut oil, melt the oil first and work fast as the oil solidifies quickly if your room or beans are cold.
Sprinkle seasonings on top of coated beans and stir well.
Dry in dehydrator until crisp dry. This takes approximately 10 - 12 hours at 125 degrees, or 8 hours at 135 degrees, but occasionally longer. You could also bake in a low-temperature oven.
Store in an airtight container.
Did you know you can dry okra out and paint it to be festive decorations? I’ve seen some painted as witches and ghosts and others painted as Santas. Dried okra is also so pretty by itself with its beautiful natural design showing through and used in wreath making.
Try unconventional recipes:
While perusing different ideas for how to use excess okra and green beans, I came across this, an idea I never dreamed possible - okra cookies. To be fair, I haven’t tried it yet. But I’m about to!
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup oatmeal (not instant or 1 minute)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup raw okra processed in the food processor to resemble coarse chunks
Preheat the oven to 350. Cream together butter and sugars until fluffy. Add egg and mix until combined.
Sift in flour, soda, powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix to combine.
Stir in oatmeal, chocolate chips, and okra.
Scoop by 1/4 c scoops onto a greased or lined baking sheet. Bake 16 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Let cool before removing from the cookie sheet. Yielded 14 cookies.
Because it was so easy to find an okra dessert recipe online, I googled “green bean dessert recipes?” not quite expecting to find anything. When I saw many many results, each resembling the other, but proving the point that this tasty dessert is very popular in Southeast Asia:
Now, this seems a bit outside of my skill level, but I will definitely give it a go. It could be a fun Sunday activity, just to give it a try! I’m just so excited to think that there are so many different ways to prepare your average green bean. This recipe is from whattocooktoday.com
200 grams of mung beans (green beans)
100 grams of tapioca pearls
6 cups water
3 pandan leaves knotted
150 ml coconut milk
Small pinch of salt
TO SWEETEN THE SOUP: (YOU CAN USE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING):
Rinse the mung beans in several changes of water until clean.
Soak mung beans for at least 4 hours or overnight. Discard the soaking water.
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add mung beans and pandan leaves. Bring water back to a boil and then lower the heat to let it simmer partially covered, for the next 30 minutes or until most of the beans break open and tender. Add the sago pearls and continue cooking for another 10 minutes or until the sago pearls turn translucent. You may still see some white spots in the pearls, but as long as they are soft and chewy, they are done cooking. The sago pearls may thicken the soup slightly too
Turn off the heat and stir in coconut milk, a small pinch of salt, and a sweetener of your choice.