Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pickled Okra

I recently heard from two friends who had very different reactions to the jars of pickled okra I had given them. One exclaimed how wonderfully spicy the pickles were. The other wondered why hers were so mild.

I puzzled over this for a while, then realized that one of these friends had received a jar that had been processed at least two months earlier, while the second friend had pickles that were practically brand new.

Moral of the story: to get the full benefit of those zesty spices, you really need to let the pickles rest for a few weeks--or months.

The recipe I use is from "The Art of Accompaniment" by Jeffree Sapp Brooks. It couldn't be much simpler: You just pack the okra, spices, garlic and chili peppers in a clean jar, pour it a hot brine of vinegar, water and salt, then cap the jars and process them in a pot of boiling water.

This recipe is enough to make four pints, but I don't always have two pounds of okra laying around. For me, it's easier to simply harvest what the garden offers as the okra grow to the right size, then make a quart of pickles when I've gathered enough. But here's the original recipe.

2 pounds fresh okra
2 2/3 cups cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 talespoons sal
4 garlic cloves, crushed and pealed
4 dried chili pods (I use ripe red jalapenos from the garden, seeded)
4 small bay leaves
2 tablespoon pickling spices

Divide the okra and other ingredients into 4 clean pint jars, or 2 quart jars. (It helps to pack some of the okra first stem-end-down, then continue packing stem-end up.) ring the vinegar, water and salt to a boil. Ladle brine into jars. Screw on caps and process in a boiling water bath-- 10 minutes for pint jars, 15 minutes for quart jars.

Store in a cool, dark place at least one month before opening.

3 comments:

Jenny said...

Delicious! I love pickled okra. Well ... I love okra almost anyway i can get it.

Janet said...

Could be your friends have a different sense of what's spicy, too. It's always amazing to me how differently people perceive spicy heat. Anyway...I love pickled okra, too!

Ed Bruske said...

Jenny, pickling okra is so easy. The more hot peppers the better, far as I'm concerned.

Janet, I really should have been less concerned about cooking all the okra and just gone ahead and pickled it. I'm sure we'll be eating it all winter long--as long as it lasts.