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Spicy pickled okra

Okra: people either love it or hate it. But okra and I have a more complicated relationship. My head tells me that I don’t like okra—I find it slimy and strange. But if you present me with a plate of fried okra or a jar of pickled okra, I’ll eat it—happily and greedily.

I come late to okra, which belies my Southern heritage, I know. I only started eating fried okra a few years ago (though have since made up for much lost time) and pickled okra is an even more recent addition to my table.

A Texan friend had called me, thrilled that she had found “Talk O’ Texas” brand of pickled okra at a New York grocery store. I must have not expressed the appropriate amount of enthusiasm for her discovery because she said, “What’s wrong, don’t you like okra pickles?”

I admitted that I had never even tried them before, I was so adamantly against the vegetable. She chided me and told me that my attitude needed to change as I was missing out on a very good thing.

Spicy pickled okra | Homesick Texan

It wasn’t until last October that I finally took the okra-pickle plunge. I was at the annual Southern Foodways Symposium in Oxford, Mississippi and during a gumbo luncheon, jars of Tabasco spicy pickled okra were offered as gifts. None of my table mates wanted their jars and since I hate to see good food go to waste, I ended up with several jars of the pickles.

That night, after enjoying myself a bit too much, I ended up in my motel room hungry. Having only the pickles on hand, I decided that they would have to suffice. But surprisingly, I found them more than adequate—I actually enjoyed eating them and was thankful that I had more than one jar as I learned that I my friend was correct—pickled okra is indeed a very good thing.

Okra pickles are especially refreshing right now. Cold and crisp, I like to toss them into salads, dip them in hummus or use as a garnish in a glass of vegetable juice. You can fry them, too. There are still slight texture issues—yes, that’s a slight hint of softness in the center of each pod—but I find that the tang of the vinegar and fire of the chiles used in the brine make up for what I normally find unappealing.

And if you see red okra, definitely grab some. It’s a bit drier than the green okra and makes for an especially fine pickle—plus it turns the brine a rosy shade.

Spicy pickled okra | Homesick Texan

I’m not going to chide you if you don’t like okra—I realize opinions on it are heated. But no matter how you feel, do yourself a favor and at least try these spicy okra pickles. Who knows, you might even change your mind.

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4.82 from 27 votes

Spicy pickled okra

Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 pints
Author Lisa Fain

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds okra, stems trimmed
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup fresh dill
  • 4 serrano chiles, cut in half, lengthwise
  • 2 teaspoons chile flakes
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seed
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  • Evenly divide between 4 sterilized pint-sized jars the okra, dill, Serrano chiles and garlic cloves.
  • Bring the vinegar and spices to a boil and pour into the jars. Fill up the rest of the jar with water.
  • Let cool (about half an hour) and then cover and refrigerate.
  • Will be ready in a day and will keep in the refrigerator for a few months, though they probably won’t last that long.

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63 Comments

  1. When my aunt lived in Germany we sent care packages made up of Cheetos, Rotel, and Taste O Texas picked okra!

    And it is funny to hear you say "okra pickles" I have never heard them called that, born and raised Texan, but my 8 year old calls them that. All the time. And boy we better have some okra pickles we he opens the fridge!

  2. Lisa, I thought you might be interested in acquiring the July 2009 #121 SAVEUR magazine. It is a special collector's edition called "The Texas Issue".

    It really is wonderful, there are numerous recipes including one for Chicken Fried Steak, and numerous sources for finding ingredients, favorite food items including, pickled okra, top restaurants, and great stories, etc.

    I had forgotten that I had bought the magazine while in the airport waiting to fly to San Antonio last july.

    You can order back issues if you can't find it. Enjoy!

  3. The Greasy Spoon says:

    Hi Lisa

    I liked your post on Okra. Okra is a strange vegetable isn't it? I'm not entirely convinced if I like it that much. I suppose the secret is to undercook it- to avoid the slime factor.

    We've just got back from Morocco, and I was surprised to see that they use okra in tagines.

    Best wishes

    Luke aka The Greasy Spoon

  4. All right — inspired by your post, we made three pint jars of okra pickles over the weekend. We found ourselves with one question — should the added water be hot, cold, or somewhere in between? We went with hot. We can hardly wait to try them!

    We also made pickled jalapenos from the recipe on David Lebovitz's site (except that we sliced them instead of pickling them whole — better for nachos!). We will let you know how all the pickles turn out!

    Ms B

  5. MyLittleHappyPlace says:

    Hi Lisa!
    I just found your blog as I Googled images for "migas." I too, am a homesick Texan – we live in Brazil – and I yearn for my wonderful, Texas comida EVERY DAY!
    I'm so glad I found you – and yes, my mouth is watering over those spicy, pickled okra!