Friday, May 8, 2015

Pickled Okra

I don't like pickles. I pick them off of burgers, I eat around them on the sandwich platter, no thank you! But when I was a kid, I like okra pickles. Mind you, I thought that okra pickle was a type of pickle (before I knew that pickles were cucumbers) and fried okre (yes, spelled differently) was an entirely different vegetable.

Well, now I know that the term 'pickle' applies more to a process than a food and therefore okra pickles were actually pickled okra. And that okra and 'okre' are the same thing, with a different twang. Even with this revelation, I never saw pickled okra at the store, just frozen (which I bought and never ate).

But then (!!!) I saw it in the grocery store as a fresh produce. I was so tempted to just buy a bunch of okra but I was all "but it isn't pickled". For the record, pickling is super easy. So I finally bought some okra and looked up how to pickle things.

Honestly, the most terrifying part of this process was sterilizing the jars. Mason jar: not just for cute storage. Generally speaking, when you add hot water to glass, it breaks. But not mason jars because they were in fact not created for wedding decor but for canning and being boiled. So I carefully sterilized a couple mason jars and associated parts. My fear didn't stop though once the glass didn't break. I was still concerned I hadn't sterilized correctly and that I was going to end up unknowingly eating rotten pickles or getting ebola (not how you get ebola).

Other than preparing the jars, there's a bunch of vinegar involved which is the essence of pickling. I wanted a little spice to my okra so added some red pepper flakes. The recipe I looked up called for some garlic and dill which couldn't hurt.

I wasn't convinced the liquid would seep into the okra if I didn't trim the tops but the stems were already cut off so I just barely trimmed the okra. The spices, herbs and garlic are placed in the bottom and then the okra is stuffed in there. Always add the okra first, before the hot liquid. That way, you don't have to worry about overflowing juices when you stuff in the okra.

The jars of pickled okra were set to pickle for two weeks. Then I tested one jar which opened with a satisfying 'pop' of the seal. Sterilization success! The pickled okra was quite tasty, with just the right amount of kick. But I left the other jar for a few more days to see what that pickling would do.


This is officially on the homemade gift giving list, I wonder if okra can be found in winter....

  • 1 lb. of fresh okra, stems trimmed
  • 1 clove of garlic per jar
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh dill per jar
  • Sprinkle of red pepper flakes, amount depends on your spice preference 
  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • 1 cup of water
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Wash your jars and lids in warm, soapy water. Sterilize your canning jars by placing in a pot and covering with water. Bring the water to a boil. Make sure that you also have the lids in there too! Carefully remove with tongs and set aside.
  2. In a medium sauce pan (could be the same one you used for the jars), bring the vinegar, salt and water to a boil.
  3. While that's boiling, place the garlic, dill and red pepper flakes in the mason jars. Evenly distribute these ingredients.
  4. After trimming the stems of the okra, place them in the jars, alternating the direction to fit more in.
  5. Pour the hot vinegar mixture into the jars, over the okra, until the jar is almost full. You don't want to fill to the brim.
  6. Tighten the jar lids in place and store in a dark place for 2-3 weeks. When you open the jars, you want to hear a little 'pop' from the seal breaking.
  7. Refrigerate once you open the jars. 
There's definitely a lot of different spices you can add to your okra. A bunch of recipes call for mustard seeds instead of red pepper flakes so have fun and experiment! 

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