Cooking in the Florida Heat

Cooking in the Florida Heat
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Putting Up Fresh Vegetables: Hot Pickled Okra

Recently I was given a copy of the Farm to Fork cookbook by Emeril Lagasse. This book is especially dear to me because it came to me at a time when I'm doing just that, buying from local farmers to put on our table, some by way of my pantry.

It's been a goal of mine to feed our family healthy unprocessed food. If any processing is going to happen, I'm going to be the one processing it using only natural ingredients. It just makes sense to me. Besides, I enjoy it!

My only experience with okra was frozen in a package of mixed vegetables and I didn't like it, not at all!  But my Husband loves it so I made it my mission in life to give him something he loves. Lots of it too!

Fifteen pounds of okra doesn't seem like much, does it? Let me tell you, that's very misleading. Okra are tiny finger length vegetables that are very lightweight. So, 15 lbs of okra was a HUGE amount in my kitchen! To my surprise I found that fresh okra is delicious! I love it when I bite into a fresh veggie and get a nice crunch!

One Hour Chilled Okra
The first application with okra was going to be pickled okra using a recipe from the great Emeril Lagasse himself. I chose to make three batches of this recipe so I started with 6 lbs of fresh okra. I dropped the first 2 lbs of okra into a soapy water bath to get rid of any unseen bugs if there were some. After a good rinse, I trimmed the cap down only leaving 1/3 intact. This is where I've got to say there is an unpleasant side to okra, it's slimy when you cut it. The okra was moved to a container of ice water to soak for 1 hour.

During the big chill I made the pickling solution.

For each two pounds of okra you need:
5 cups distilled white vinegar
6 tablespoons kosher salt (I recommend you cut that down to 3)
8 cloves of garlic
16 fresh hot peppers such as Tabasco or Serrano (I grow both but used only Serrano and for my next batch I may even use some Habanero to bump up the heat)
1/4 cup whole yellow mustard seeds

Bring the vinegar, salt, garlic, hot peppers and mustard seeds to a boil in a large nonreactive pot. Because I made a triple batch I used a large stainless steel dutch oven. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Because I was going to water bath can my pickled okra, I had another pan on the stove of boiling water. I'd already washed my jars and lids but prior to packing they must be boiled briefly. I used tongs to dip them into the boiling water to sterilize them. (Please see the canning instructions that come with your canning jars for specific canning information.)

Before you pack the okra, remove them from the ice water and pat them dry. (I was lucky that my Husband did this for me while watching a football game.)

Divide the okra among four or five sterilized pint canning jars, inserting the okra cap side down. Here is where his literal meaning didn't work with my pint jars. This left way too much headroom and used too many pint size jars. After following this for the first batch I changed it up for the remaining batches. I put the cap side down and then tucked the okra into the jar any way I could get it in there making better use of the jars. Divide the peppers, garlic cloves and mustard seeds evenly among the jars of okra. I placed my jars into a baking pan of hot water for at least 10 minutes before the next step. Cover with the hot pickling liquid by at least 1/4 inch, leaving at least 1/2 inch of headspace. Make sure there are no air bubbles in the jars, wipe the rims clean and attach the lids and rings. Process the jars in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Remove the jars from the hot water and let them cool. The jars should seal as they cool. Store the jars in a cool, dark place for up to one year. (Any jars that do not vacuum seal properly should be refrigerated and the pickles consumed within two weeks.) Allow the pickles to mature for at least 4 weeks before consuming.

***Update! It's been four weeks and we've eaten these okra and I like them! Don't tell anyone that but I like them! You can taste every ingredient in this recipe and you'll see my new recommendations next to the original ingredients for how I will modify this next time I put up okra. I will also add 2 cups of water to the vinegar for my next batch and see how that affects the recipe. You can be sure I'll post my results when I do.

Hot Pickled Okra
As you can see, I used a mixture of quart, pint and half pint jars to get this done. Pickling and/or canning vegetables is labor intensive but worth your effort. I shouldn't have to make pickled okra again until well into next year. And next time I do this, I'll have a second pair of hands to help!

Happy pickling!

*Please note that after pickling okra there was still 9 lbs of fresh okra left. Stay tuned for more about okra!


  1. Those look awesome!! We are enjoying my "hot and spicy" pickled beans I canned this last year:) I might need to try growing okra this year.

  2. I just made my first batch of pickled okra. I panicked a little when I began making this recipe because it had no water. I added equal parts water to my vinegar because it varied so much from other recipes. The next time I will probably use about half the amount of water. The brine is amazing and I am planning on using it for cucumber pickles as well. It's not too hot or too spicy but just right. I like the fact that the pepper and spices are cooked together instead of just packing them into jars. Thank you so much for this recipe.


Feel free to let me know what you think about this recipe.