For me, why pickle okra if it’s not spicy pickled okra? I love these pickles, but making sure your pickled okra is crunchy is tricky. Here’s how to go about it.
Let’s start with the obvious: Spicy pickled okra is not slimy. No pickled okra is. The vinegar denatures the slime, leaving you with crunchy treats.
Incidentally, I grow a drought tolerant red okra, which is why my pickles are reddish green.
Crunchy. That’s the goal. Making any pickles crunchy requires a little boost. Some things need to be salted first to remove some excess water; cucumbers are like this.
Others can stand a little soak in pickling lime, an alkaline solution that can make pickled things really crunchy, or oddly chalky if you leave them in the lime too long.
More traditional methods are to add tannins using plants that grow all around us. The most common plants for making crunchy pickles are grape leaves, currant leaves and oak leaves. All work well, and I used grape leaves for these spicy okra pickles.
Choosing Okra for Pickles
You will want to use smallish okra for these spicy okra pickles because I pickle them whole. Since I grow a lot of okra plants, I choose pods that are just the right size for a pint jar. This is about four inches long. That way I can pack them cleanly.
I am not a fan of slicing okra for pickles because that opens them up to slime, which only goes away after boiling them with the vinegar solution. Doing this can render the okra soft, which I don’t like.
Prepping Okra for Pickles
You need to prep your okra to make pickles.
First, top your okra. Remove the stem and much of the cap to the okra. What this does is expose soft tissue that you can use to get your pickling liquid inside your pods. Okra is hollow.
Now use a needle or something similar to pierce the top of the okra in several places. This will allow the vinegar to get inside fully.
Now you’re ready to make okra pickles. If you are using a grape, currant or oak leaf, lay it into a pint jar.
Pack the okra into the jars. Pack them top to bottom, bottom to top, so you can get more in the jar with less air in between.
Boil your vinegar solution, then pour it over the okra. You will see it start to bubble, as the vinegar will be seeping into the pods. Here’s a short video of what it looks like.
This will lower the level of the vinegar, so you’ll need to pour in a bit more after a minute or three. Keep the vinegar hot while you do this.
After a while, the bubbling will subside. Fill the vinegar up to about 1 inch of the top of the jars, then close the lid.
Canning Spicy Pickled Okra
I keep my pickled okra in the fridge, where they will keep a year or so. But you can water-bath can spicy pickled okra, too.
Seal the lids and submerge in boiling water for 10 minutes. If you’re not familiar with water-bath canning, this means you need the jars to be in at least simmering water for 10 minutes. The temperature will drop when you put the jars in, so start counting when it returns to a simmer.
Also, if you are going to water bath can your spicy pickled okra, you must decide before you start because you will need to do it while the vinegar inside the jars is still hot. Otherwise the temperature difference can crack the jars. Ask me how I know…
If you liked this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below; I’d love to hear how everything went. If you’re on Instagram, share a picture and tag me at huntgathercook.
Spicy Pickled Okra
- 1 pound small okra, 3 to 4 inches long
- 3 cups white or cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 3 to 6 habaneros, sliced in half (or other hot peppers)
- 3 grape leaves, oak leaves or 12 currant leaves (optional)
- Slice the stems off the okra, exposing the caps. Pierce those caps with a needle several times; this will let the vinegar seep in.
- Bring the vinegar, water, salt, sugar and mustard seeds to a boil.
- Tuck a grape leaf in each pint jar. Put a few pieces of cut hot pepper in the jar. Pack the okra in over it, top to bottom, bottom to top. Pack tightly.
- Slowly pour in the hot vinegar until it covers the okra. If the okra starts floating, jam another pod in the jar to prevent this. It will start to bubble through those holes you pierced in the tops. Let this happen for a few minutes, then top off the jars, leaving 1 inch headspace.
- If you are canning, submerge the jars in simmering water, then count off 10 minutes once the water returns to a simmer. Remove the jars to cool. Any whose lids don't seal properly should be kept in the fridge.