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Pickled Okra


Pickled Okra

Okra is one of those vegetables that people feel passionately about.  Either they love it, with a dedicated, all consuming love, or they hate it.  Dan and I fall into opposite ends of the okra spectrum.  He doesn’t want it within ten feet of his plate (or at least no closer than my side of the couch) and I can’t get enough of it.  I want it fried, I want it stewed, and always (always) I wanted it pickled.  When I was growing up I used to love to settle into the the front porch with a good book and a jar of pickled okra.  Nothing made me happier than the crunchy outside, the spicy vinegary flavor, and the unexpected pop of the seeds beneath your teeth.  In my lifetime I have consumed an embarrassing amount of pickled okra, one jar at a time.  And I don’t regret a bite.

This year we grew okra in the back yard, which was a lot of fun.  About a month into the plant’s existence what looked like a seed pod (the part of the okra you eat) appeared on the plant.  Great news, except I had never seen a flower.  I consulted the interwebz and learned that the okra flower blooms for less than a day, so I just missed it.  Afterwards I always felt a little rush of excitement when I caught the okra flowering, like I was seeing something secret.  Because I’m a five year old, obviously.  And because growing plants is a magical experience.

This is a traditional pickled okra recipe, similar to what any of your southern grandmothers make or what I spent my childhood eating on the front porch.  Heavily vinegar based, like any pickle, and spicy, this is one of my favorite snacks.  And definitely my favorite way to eat okra.  In other news, this weekend I’ll be submitting a pie into the Cville Pie Fest in Charlottesville, VA.  It’s a pie that is brand spankin’ new and might fail really horribly.  In front of a lot of people.  Come by and watch the fun!

Pickled Okra

4 pounds of fresh okra

6 pint size canning jars with lids and bands

3 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar

3 1/2 cups water

6 tbsp red pepper flakes

12 cloves garlic

2 tbsp salt

6 tsps whole mustard seeds

6 tsps whole cumin seeds

1 jalapeño, sliced

Begin by sterilizing your jars.  About an hour before you want to can fill two large pots with water.  I recommend that you have some canning equipment, at the very least a large pot with a rack and a pair of tongs.  You’ll need a separate pot for sterilizing your jars and lids.  Bring both pots of water to a boil.  In one pot (the one without a lid) place your jars and the lids (not the screw bands).  Allow them to boil for at least 10 minutes, but keep them in the pot until right before you fill them.

In a non reactive sauce pan heat vinegar, water, and salt.

Clean the okra and cut off the stems.  In each sterilized jar, place two cloves of garlic, one slice of jalapeño, 1 tbsp red pepper flakes, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, and as much okra as you can pack in tightly.  Ladle vinegar mixture into each jar, leaving about 1/4″ headspace.  Wipe the rim down, place a clean lid on each jar, and screw band on tightly.  Process in your large pot (with rack) for 10 minutes.  Remove from water, give the band another squeeze, and allow to sit.  Once the jars have sealed (you’ll know if you can’t pop the lid up and down), set them in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks.  They will stay for up to a year.

**As with any preservation process, there are risks.  If you notice anything abnormal, discard the pickles immediately.  Botulism is no fun.**

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  • The Nervous Cook

    27.09.2010 at 19:08 Reply

    Pickled okra is nature’s (spicy) candy! I love how divisive those little slimy green guys are, too: “There are two types of people in the world…”

    Great post! I can’t wait to eat pickled okra by the jarful now.

  • Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon

    28.09.2010 at 06:18 Reply

    Good luck in Charlottesville. Can’t wait to hear how you did.

    PS – I’m with Dan on okra.

  • Tracy

    01.10.2010 at 09:40 Reply

    I really haven’t eaten enough okra to make an informed decision. However, I love just about anything pickled. Much luck with the pie!

  • Brooke - in Oregon

    23.01.2011 at 09:08 Reply

    I have not had okra very many times and I was not fond of it. BUT I am going to grow it this year just to try my hand at Pickling it! :) I am HOPING I LOVE it pickled! lol

  • Aimee

    19.01.2012 at 13:54 Reply

    Great blog! I’m a fellow okra lover (that’s putting it mildly) and I’m also an urban apartment backyard gardener, in Brooklyn, NY. I will definitely grow okra this year and was considering Cajun Jewel…looks like it produced pretty well for you. Would you say so? How many plants did you grow?

    • elena

      20.01.2012 at 05:56 Reply

      This year I grew 8 Cajun Jewels… we had a really great crop, though I kept missing them on the perfect days (okra goes from too small to way too big overnight) so I had a lot to keep for seeds!

      • Aimee

        20.01.2012 at 08:35 Reply

        Good to know, about the okra going from small to extra large overnight! If you have extra okra seeds to spare and you’re interested in trading seeds, you can visit my “current seed inventory” page on my blog to see if I have anything you’d be interested in. I’m always happy to trade!

  • Kaitlin

    23.05.2013 at 08:39 Reply

    I can’t wait to try these in a Bloody Mary.

    • elena

      24.05.2013 at 21:27 Reply

      They are SO GOOD in a Bloody Mary! Totally the second best way to eat them!

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    05.03.2015 at 20:46 Reply

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