Ever wonder how people obtained healthy bacteria needed for the digestive tract before probiotics came along? They ate fermented foods such as sauerkraut and other pickled vegetables or dairy. Fermented foods are high in nutritional value and the fermentation process increases levels of certain vitamins like C and B, while the minerals in food become more bio-available. Enzymes, which help digest cooked food, are also formed during fermentation. So consider including a fermented food with every meal as a digestive aid and an easy way to get your probiotics!
With an abundance of okra in our garden this year, I decided to pickle a batch using lacto-fermentation. Here's how...
1 lb fresh okra, washed and stems trimmed
1 cayenne pepper, seeded and sliced into 4 thin strips
2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill (or 1 tsp dried)
1 Tbsp sea salt
4 Tbsp whey (if whey is not available use an additional Tbsp of sea salt)
1 cup filtered water
Place okra in a quart size mason jar. Add remaining ingredients to the jar, adding more water if necessary to cover the okra. The top of the liquid should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly, shake well, and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to the refrigerator. The liquid will expand during fermentation so you may have to "burp" the jar once or twice to release any built up pressure.
It takes several weeks for these to really develop their flavor, so you have to be patient. The flavor is not at all like the commercial variety where the okra is pickled in vinegar, but once they have aged properly, they are really good – at least if you like okra.