I woke up Saturday and needed a sweater. At my usual Saturday morning social hour shopping trip to the Farmer’s Market, half the people were wearing fleece jackets. I kinda wished I had one myself — but did raise a suspicious eyebrow at the teenage girl who donned a sweater, a wool cap, earmuffs, and a thick blanket wrapped about. That, girly, is just drama.
By mid-morning, I’m sure everyone was hanging up their jackets. But it was a windy, gorgeous day — a high of only 72º. Between that and the start of college football season, my drought-weary soul was given a shot of epinephrine. I was wired, and ready for work.
On the list for my project-loaded weekend was a harvest of produce to “put up.” I use those quotes because I’m not yet familiar enough with the undertaking to use the phrase with any sense of confidence. I had beans, roma tomatoes, cucumbers, and okra.
We still receive a good bit of mail addressed to the previous owners of our house. Thankfully, they just moved a few doors down — and also thankfully, they don’t mind if I flip through their magazines before walking them to their rightful owner. Just last week I was perusing the current issue of Southern Living that landed in my mail slot. It just so happened they had a little blurb on pickling okra.
If you’re not from the south, you might not have eaten pickled okra — and if not, you should get your hands on some. The edible part of the plant is a beautiful seed pod that once inspired an identity of mine — but since the pod is mucilagenous (er… slimy) I only eat it three ways: tossed into a gumbo, fried, or pickled. Most of the goo becomes unnoticeable in each of those preparations.
Though I’d eaten it many times, I’d never pickled it myself (ok, I’ve never pickled anything and canned it). But it was easy as pie-in-a-storebought-crust — the biggest challenge was coercing a massive pot of water to boil. This method of canning only requires a water bath — meaning, once you sterilize and pack your jars, you submerge them fully in boiling water for 10 minutes to seal. You need two really big pots, and a jar lifter (purchased in a $6 kit from Walmart).
If you’re not ready to try your own before tasting the vinegary morsels, I’ve got three jars that’ll be ready in about a week. My okra is your okra.
Well, maybe just one.
(adapted from a recipe in Southern Living)
- two big stockpots, one tall enough to hold pint jars upright with 1″ water to cover
- jar lifter
- 3 (1-pt) canning jars
- 1 lb fresh okra
- 3 small fresh jalapenos, (can sub red pepper flakes)
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 tsp dill seeds
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups water (filtered if you have it)
- 1/4 cup salt
- 2 Tbsp sugar
Fill larger pot with enough water to cover pint jars by 1″. Bring to a boil.
Place jars and lids in second stock pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil to sterilize. Simmer while prepping other ingredients.
Bring vinegars, water, salt, and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan.
Remove jars from simmering water, and place on a cutting board. Pack okra into hot jars, filling to 1/2″ from the top. Add 1 pepper (or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes), 1 garlic clove, and 1 tsp dill seeds to each jar. Pour hot vinegar mixture over okra, filling to 1/2″ from top.
Wipe jar rims, and cover with metal lids. Screw bands into place (snugly but not over-tight). Lower jars into boiling water, adding water if necessary so that jars are covered by at least 1″. Bring water back to a rolling boil, and let boil 10 minutes.
Remove pot from heat, and let jars sit in water for 5 minutes.
Carefully remove jars from hot water, and set on cutting board. Cool 12-24 hours, testing the seal by pressing the center of each lid (if jar lids don’t pop, they are sealed). Store in a cool dry place for up to one year.