If you are a confirmed okra hater, and have bothered to read this far, I have a suggestion for you. Check out my favorite okra recipe, which you will find here, along with a short defense of this maligned veg. This favorite recipe, not original to me, has converted some of your kind. The widespread anti-okra sentiment is not a mystery. It's about slime. I know this.
The best okra recipes reduce the slime factor, but do not eliminate it. It is a mistake to go for total elimination. Not possible. It needs to be controlled..or it's all about a gluepot. But it ain't never going to be eliminated, and it has it's own charms. Eventually, you just have to give up or embrace the slime...in moderation. Okra has qualities in common with those gelatinous cuts of meat, which make such wonderful stews and pot roasts. You can think of it, maybe, as a sort of richness. Or not. Up to you.
Obviously, fussing with pickled okra is not a tempting prospect for anyone who is not pretty sure they like okra. I'm not given to begging-but I do urge you to that favorite (low slime) okra recipe, from Suvir Saran's Indian Home Cooking- I find it as addictive as, well-I was going to say, potato chips...but I'm not sure why. Nevermind.
For the rest, if there are any, after the embracing slime thing:
I've been feeling sorry for myself, because more than a few of my friends are in Louisiana right now, at a wedding. I wish I had been able to afford to go too. The groom is the son of two of my best friends in the whole world. I've known him since he was a towheaded middleschooler, and now he is a great big, sweet man, marrying a charming cajun lady...and I'm missing the fun, and consoling myself (and wallowing) with pickles.
My recent used cookbook bonanza included a hardbound copy of The Green Thumb Preserving Guide, by Jean Anderson, in very nice condition, complete with dust cover. Published in 1976, it has some intriguing pickle recipes, including this one for pickled okra, from Southwestern Louisiana. Seemed like the thing, though I've adapted it a bit, changing the vinegar, and eliminating the slaked lime soaking. I haven't got any slaked lime, don't know what it is, and will investigate further another time. According to Ms. Anderson, these pickles are a traditional hot weather snack, intended to be washed down with plenty of beer. I can do that.
I only made a two quarts of pickles- as opposed to the 4 quarts in the original recipe, since I had only 1 1/2 pounds of okra. Anyhow, you can never be entirely sure with a pickle recipe, until you taste the finished product- and 8 pints of indifferent or even nasty pickles could be depressing. I processed one quart in the boiling water bath as directed, and put the other in the fridge, unprocessed, for comparison purposes. I like pickles pretty crisp. Though the long term unrefrigerated shelf life of the processed pickles is a real plus, I was afraid the processing might make them mushy. We'll see, once they have a chance to ripen a bit.
This is what I used:
one and 1/2 pounds of okra, preferably small-about the size of your pinky, unless your hands are huge, or tiny
2 cups vinegar-I used a mixture of white wine and balsamic, for taste-though it is prettier with all lighter colored vinegar*(see note)
2/3 cup sugar
a large yellow onion, cut in half moons, very thinly sliced and separated
a fresh hot pepper for each jar (makes 2 qts-or 4 pint jars)
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp tumeric
2 tsps white mustard seed
1 tsp celery seed
Wash the okra carefully, but do not trim tips and stems unless stems are very long. Dryand set out on a clean dish towel. Boil up some canning jars, and leave the jars sitting in the simmering water. Combine the vinegar, salt, sugar and spices, and bring to a boil. Remove jars from boiling water, and set on a clean towel near the stove. Distribute the onions and the hot peppers in the clean jars. Add okra to boiling vinegar, and boil for 60 seconds. Remove okra with a slotted spoon and pack into jars. Using a canning funnel (wide mouth), pour vinegar into jars, to cover okra, leaving 1/4" headroom. If there is not enough vinegar, add boiling water to top them off.
Slide lids into the boiling water briefly, set on jars, and place rings on top, screwing on loosely. Pour enough additional water out of the boiling water pot to make room for the pickle jars, bring back to a boil, and slide them in. Bring to boil again, and process with lid on for 15 minutes. Remove jars. Cool and check for seal, refrigerating any boingers, and store in a cool, dark place. Or, you can skip the processing, and just refrigerate them-no problem.
So, I'm sitting around watching some fairly dull pre-season football while reading (Death of a Red Heroine- Qiu Xiaolong), eating a few sample okra pickles (I like them-very crunchy-a bit spicy-good flavor, no excessive or exterior okra slime), some spiced shrimps and sausages, and absorbing a bit of liquid refreshment. Not so bad.
I'll try to remember to come back here and add a note, in a month or so, on the processed pickles, once I've tried them. We'll see if they stay crisp, and what happens with regard to the suppressed slime factor.
*Note: If you are relying on vinegar for preservation, it is not a good idea to mess with the type, or quantity of vinegar in an established recipe. Vinegars have differing degrees of acidity, and you can affect the preservation process-your the pickles may be swimming is unknown bacteria-and taste bad to boot.. In this case, the pickles will be either refrigerated or processed. As I am not relying on the vinegar for anything but taste-it is okay to fool around.