City Cafe

Pickled Okra: Southern Tradition, Tasty Snack, and “Link to the Past”

Pickled okra
Pickled okra
Credit Kate Sweeney / WABE

Winter is on its way, but that doesn’t mean we need to forsake all the goodness from our gardens, or from the produce shelves. We paid a visit to the kitchen of Preserving Place on Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood, where Martha McMillin teaches classes on food preservation, including canning, fermentation and pickling.

Host John Lemley talked with Martha about why she thinks pickling has made a comeback and what it means to her, as we made a batch of that southern delicacy, pickled okra.

Story that aired Wednesday Nov. 20, 2013

Here’s Martha’s recipe for pickling okra at home.

Please note: This recipe assumes knowledge of basic canning skills, and does not go into great detail on how to use canning equipment, etc. If you’re a first-timer, we recommend learning the ropes first.


3 ½ pounds okra

21 small dried arbol chiles

7 bay leaves

14 garlic cloves

7 t. dill seeds

7 t. coriander seeds

7 t. mustard seed

5 ¼ cups water

5 ¼ cups champagne vinegar (or red wine vinegar or cider vinegar)

1/3 cup Kosher salt


Clean and trim your okra. This recipe is packed into pint jars, so you want pieces that are 3 ½ inches long, to fit into your jar. You can use longer okra by packing it into a quart jar.

Make your pickling brine by combining the water, vinegar and Kosher salt in a large, stainless steel saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir to be sure the salt is dissolved.

Pack the okra into hot jars, and add the following in each jar:

1 bay leaf

3 small dried arbol chiles

2 garlic cloves

1 t. dill seeds

1 t. coriander seeds

1 t. mustard seeds

Once the large pieces are packed, hold the jar upright and stuff the smaller pieces of okra into the smaller openings. When ready, ladle the hot pickling brine into each jar, leaving ½ an inch of headspace. Wipe the rim, place lids and rings on top and place into canning pot. Process for 15 minutes with at least one inch of boiling water covering the jars the entire time. Remove lid, let the jars sit in the water for 5 minutes, and then remove jars to a towel-covered tray to rest for 24 hours.