I’ve been having lots of fun thinking of different ways to use up the fruits and veggies in my weekly produce basket from Suncoast Organics. Each week they offer several interesting and unusual items that I rarely, if ever, see at the supermarket - like the yardlong beans I made last week.
This week, I ordered some organic red okra. I didn’t even know that okra came in red. Since red is one of my signature colors, I ordered some. Then I remembered that no one around here particularly likes okra. Except in gumbo. Or jambalaya. But I wasn’t about to start a Cajun cooking marathon in this 95 degree heat. Nosirree! Until it cools off a little, nobody’s getting much more than salad or a quick stir fry out of me! Okay, I might be persuaded to throw some steaks or chicken on the grill, but that’s it – unless there’s jewelry involved.
But, these lovely little, rosy, red okra deserved more than just being chopped up in a salad. Look how cute they are! They needed to be front and center in whatever I used them in. So, I decided to make pickles out of them. And, not just any old pickles, mind you, but wicked sweet and spicy pickles. I wanted to make okra Wickles!
I’m not a huge pickle fan, but I do love Wickles Pickles. Now, I had absolutely no idea how to make these incredibly good, sweet and spicy pickles. And, for obvious reasons, their seventy year-old secret family recipe was nowhere to be found on the Internet. So I read the ingredient list on the back of a Wickles jar and decided to wing it. Either I’m incredibly talented or incredibly lucky, because my pickled okra turned out fantastic!
The first thing I did was dig out a few pretty mason jars. Then, I sterilized them in a big pot of boiling water. After that, I made the brine for my pickles by simmering a mixture of apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, sugar, garlic and a variety of different spices and seasonings. Then, I stuffed the okra in the jars with garlic cloves and chili peppers and topped each jar off with brine. The hardest part about making this recipe was waiting a few days before I could eat the okra!
If you have never made your own pickles before, you MUST try this. It’s so easy! Another plus is that you can adjust the amounts of each ingredient to suit your taste. The measurements I used were basically the result of trial and error. In other words, I just kept adding stuff until it tasted right to me. If you don’t have one of the ingredients that i used, leave it out – or add some others in. There really is no right or wrong in this. The only ingredients that I think are essential are the vinegars, sugar, garlic and chili peppers.
So, go crazy! Make some pickles! You know you want to.
Sweet and Spicy Wickled Okra
4 16-ounce ( one pint) mason jars with lids
3 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
3 cups granulated sugar
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon pickling spices
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon dehydrated onion
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 fresh birds eye chili peppers with a small 1/2-inch slit cut into one side of each
1 to 1 1/2 pounds fresh okra, rinsed and dried
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. when boiling, carefully place the jars and lids into the water, making sure that the jars are filled up with the water too. Boil jars and lids for a minute or so and remove them from the pot. Set aside to cool while you make the pickle brine.
- Combine the rest of the ingredients, except the chilies and okra in a pot on the stove and bring to a boil. You can use the same pot you used to sterilize the jars. When boiling, reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes. Taste the brine and adjust the seasonings to your taste.
- Place 2 garlic cloves and 1 chili pepper into each jar. Then, fill each jar with okra, packing it as tightly as you can without breaking the stalks. Fill each jar to the top with brine, completely covering the okra. Cover tightly with the lids and let cool on the counter for about 30 minutes.
- Place jars in the fridge to chill. Wait at least 2 days before using. Longer is better.
- Serve your pickles in salads or with burgers, plopped in a Bloody Mary or right out of the jar.