Okra Pickles

Okra pickles are my favorite. All across the South the recipes are just about the same. This recipe looks simple, but in fact the pickles are time- consuming to prepare because you must tightly pack the wide-mouthed jars so that the stem ends alternate up and down (both to fill the jar and to keep the okra from floating to the top). The beauty of this recipe is that the quantity of liquid just fills each jar so that the okra pods sit in no more than they can absorb. Let them rest for two months to ripen, then chill them well before you serve them.

For years my shop was located on the edge of Ansonborough in the downtown historic district of Charleston. The horse- and mule-drawn carriages full of tourists passed my door daily, and I heard the tour guides saying as they pointed to my building that the first suburb of America begins here. A dubious distinction, perhaps, but my friends and neighbors call these pickles of mind “Ansonborough Gold.” One of my favorite ways to enjoy them is in a glass of chilled Russian vodka.

If you do not grow your own okra, try to find very fresh hand-picked okra, all the same finger length for pickling. Each pound of okra will yield two pints of pickles. Multiply or divide the recipe if you like; you won’t have any problems.

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  • 3 pounds small young okra pods, all about the same size
  • 12 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 6 to 12 fresh hot peppers (see Note)
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds (½ teaspoon per jar)
  • 3 cups water
  • ¼ cup pure salt
  • 6 cups white vinegar


Wash the okra and trim the ends of the stems down to, but not including any of, the pod. Pack the okra tightly in the jars, alternating stems up and down, then divide the garlic, peppers, and mustard among the jars.

Bring the water, salt, and vinegar to a boil, then pour it over the okra to within ½ inch of the rims. Place a lid and ring on each jar, lower them into the canning kettle, and process for 10 minutes at a full boil.

Remove the jars from the water, set aside to cool, and check to be sure each lid has sealed, refrigerating any that do not. Finish tightening any loose screw bands and store the pickles for 2 months before eating.