For some time we were eating gumbo several times a week, that spicy meaty stew served in seven rice-filled bowls. The bowls of okra were swiftly making meals and all was in balance… up until about three weeks ago.
That’s when the children collectively decided they were completely done with okra. It seems as though they may have had a meeting, the young girls finally convincing the hungry older brothers that enough was enough already. Joshua must not have been privy to such a meeting, and maybe didn’t even receive the memo afterward, because he still happily gobbles down this southern delicacy.
So I was at a cross roads, so to speak. Continue with the gumbo in militant fashion or preserve the okra to spread throughout the year a little more. Because the black-eyed peas are simultaneously giving so generously and are in low regard among the young ones after perhaps one too many stir-fries, it made sense to start preserving the two in tandem.
These jars will be mixed into spiced meats and tomatoes, onions and celery when the frost comes and armfuls of firewood move into the house on a daily basis. Maybe by then the distance from the vegetables of the late August garden will be sufficient to happily warm empty bellies again. If not, perhaps the homegrown chicken broth will be just the sauce these vegetables need.
Either way they will get eaten, of that I am sure.
Canned Gumbo Vegetables
Whenever I can vegetables of more than one variety, I consult the National Center for Home Food Preservation and simply follow the instructions for the vegetable that requires the most pressure and/or time. In this case, that is the okra.
I pick and clean the okra and black-eyed peas, several large harvest bowls being about enough for a canner load. I then snap the beans into 1″ pieces and slice the okra into 1/2 inch slices. These get raw packed into the jars and then covered with hot water, leaving headspace.
I then process the jars at 15 lb of pressure for forty minutes in my pressure canner. Once the jars are cooled and the rings removed, they are tucked into cabinet shelves next to the canned squash and cucumber pickles from the early summer garden.
And what a joy it is to see those shelves filling up.