September 22, 2010

Smokin' Hot Pickled Okra

3 1/2 lb medium sized okra
3 cups water
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup pickling salt
2/3 cup minced dill
6 large cloves garlic
6 teaspoons chipotle flakes
3 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed

Bring the water, vinegars and salt to a boil. Prep the lids/jars.  I highly recommend using wide mouth jars. Okra is bulky and I was able to fit more in the wide mouth jars than the regular ones. Fill each jar tightly with okra. Evenly divide all of the spices and garlic between 6 pint jars. Top with dill.

Pour in the boiling vinegar mixture, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Poke down any okra that has floated too close to the top. Close the jars and process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. Allow to sit at least one week before eating.

Yield: about 6 pints

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.

My thoughts:
While September is mildly depressing between memories of heading back to school and the knowledge that fall and its bitter cousin, winter is just around the corner, I do like September's produce. A lot of my summer favorites (peaches, nectarines, plums, tomatoes, berries) are still available but I am also able to find winter squash, Brussels sprouts, apples, pears and some of the best okra I've seen in ages. I know okra is some what polarizing but I love it. Cooked (or pickled) properly, it doesn't have any of the dread producing ooze and is incredibly fresh and crisp. This recipe is some what nontraditional but I love anything smoky spicy so I used chipotle pepper flakes rather than red and it added a whole new level of flavor to the okra. I added celery and mustard seed because they are two of my favorite spices and I think they added a fresh flavor which is always welcome when canning.