Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pucker Up For Pickled Okra

A recent visit to the Farmer's Market was fruitful in so many ways.  In addition to beautiful peaches, pears, and watermelons I also scored a gorgeous basket of okra.  I cooked some for supper, froze 3 packages for later  and still had about 3 cups of very small okra that needed to be processed.  I have been craving pickled okra so I thought why not give it a try.  It is not something I have ever done before so there was a learning curve, but I will pass my mistakes so you don't have to make them.

                                                                Pickled Okra

2 1/2 pounds smallish okra, washed and blotted dry

4 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup pickling salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 cups water

per jar
1 clove garlic
1 hot pepper
1/2 teaspoon dill seed

Prepare the jars for canning.  Bring the vinegar, salt, sugar and water to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer until ready to can the pickles. Place the garlic clove, dill seed, and hot pepper in each HOT STERILE jar.  Stuff the okra into each jar.  By stuff I mean cram as much okra as possible into each jar.  Do not be afraid to continue cramming it in!  Using a funnel ladle the vinegar solution into each filled jar leaving 1/2 inch headspace at the top of the jars.  Run a knife or chopstick around the edge of the jars to remove air bubbles, wipe the rims, and put on the prepared lids and finger tighten the screw rings.  Place in the hot water bath and process for 20 minutes. ( See link above for complete water canning instructions)  Remove from the  water and let sit on a towel or wooden board on a level counter top.  Do not touch until they are completely cool and have sealed.  ( Listen for the "plink" as they seal.)  If any remain unsealed after they are cool re-process in the water bath.  It happens sometimes so don't be surprised if you have to dunk and heat a couple of jars again.

Now we can talk about the mistakes I made so you don't have too.  First and foremost, make these the day you buy the okra.  Just go ahead and plan on purchasing and canning the same day.  I waited 1 and a half days and the okra was not wilted, but it was not as crisp as the day I bought it.  In pickled okra, crispness counts!  If you have access to fresh grape leaves wash them thoroughly and place one in each jar. Supposedly grape leaves have a substance similar to alum that keeps the pickles crisper.  (I have none this year, but grapes are on my fall planting list and I should have some next year.  Will let you know in a year if the grape leaf truly makes a difference.)  When I say cram those okra in, I truly mean cram.  I had mine arranged so cute.  They were SUPPOSED to be a visual canning masterpiece, but when you pour the hot liquid on top of them they shrink slightly and move. Doh!  I should have had at least 1/3 more okra pods in each jar.  My yield was 7 pint jars, but if I had properly stuffed the jars I probably would have only gotten 4 1/2 pints.  The flavor is quite good, but these are a tad too salty for my tastes.  Next time I will reduce the salt to 1/3 cup.  The reason you use only pickling salt has something to do with no additives to cloud the final product.  I used it and the liquid is very clear.  Do not worry about the small amount of sugar making these pickles sweet.  They taste strongly of dill.  I think without the sugar added, it might be too acidic to enjoy eating.  The  final thing I have to say is about the pepper.  I used a Serrano pepper in each jar and there is not much heat in the pickles.  If you want something hot you might opt for a pepper a little hotter on the Scoville scale.

Let me mention dill seed while I am at it.  I went to 4 grocery stores before I found any and they were $2.89 for a small spice jar.  Through various blogs I read I was directed to Mountain Rose Herbs.  There I can find 1 pound of dill seed for $8.00  I am not an accountant, but even I can see that 8 bucks a pound is a much better deal than $2.89 an ounce.  They have similar prices on all herbs.  If anyone in the Birmingham area is interested in splitting bulk herbs let me know.  I am going to place an order next week and like everywhere else the more you spend the less it costs. 

Have a great day and remember if you think you can, well you can!


  1. I'll split costs for the bulk dill seed or whatever you are getting. I still have not made my pickled okra yet! :-(