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Easy Refrigerator Pickled Okra – Two Ways

Easy refrigerator pickled okra is perfect for small batches! No canning experience necessary. Make these okra pickles two ways — sweet and tangy or hot and smoky!

Easy refrigerator pickled okra is perfect for small batches! No canning experience necessary. Make these okra pickles two ways — sweet and tangy or hot and smoky! | www.pinchmeimeating.com

Easy refrigerator pickled okra is perfect for small batches! No canning experience necessary. Make these okra pickles two ways — sweet and tangy or hot and smoky! | www.pinchmeimeating.com

I have two confessions to make:

  1. I am a terrible gardener (but I plant vegetables every year).
  2. I am afraid of canning (but I love pickles).

I’ve been utterly neglecting my garden since mid-June — seriously, I could count the number of times I’ve weeded and watered in the last two months on one hand.

It’s no surprise that I’ve only gotten one cucumber, three eggplants, a few banana peppers, and no zucchini, and only one of my four tomato plants have given me fruits this whole season.

So it’s pure luck that at this point in the year, I am getting okra, and abundantly! 

Okra pods in my garden, destined to be refrigerator pickled okra.

I may be a terrible gardener, but I did learn one thing from growing a single okra plant four years ago — one plant is not nearly enough.

You get one pod every few days per plant so it’s never enough for a recipe, unless you’re throwing that pod in with some extra okra from the store or the farmer’s market, which sort of defeats the purpose of having a vegetable garden.

So this year I got two pots of three seedlings each and separated them out. I now have six big, beautiful okra plants that just keep producing pods!

It’s pretty much my dream come true since, as a Southern girl, I love okra. You can read more about my passion for okra in my three meat and okra gumbo recipe post – Mmmm, it’s about time for some more of that soon!

And there’s always classic Southern fried okra if you’d rather!

I’ve just been accumulating okra, two to four pods at a time, every couple of days, until I end up with enough for a jar of this amazingly easy and delicious refrigerator pickled okra. 

Okra pods in my garden, destined to be refrigerator pickled okra.

I mentioned earlier I’m afraid of canning. I’ve never done “real” canning with the sterilization and the shelf-safe-ness and I’d be a bit afraid that I wouldn’t seal something properly and I’d end up poisoning myself with botulism from a poorly canned tomato sauce. (If anyone wants to prove me wrong, I’d welcome a great beginner’s resource for canning!)

People seem to can stuff when they have an overabundance of summer produce, so fortunately for me and my terrible gardening skills, I never have that problem. So for this recipe I opted for refrigerator okra pickles instead.

Easy refrigerator pickled okra is perfect for small batches! No canning experience necessary. Make these okra pickles two ways — sweet and tangy or hot and smoky! | www.pinchmeimeating.com

You don’t have to learn a new skill or buy any new equipment, and it’s perfect for small batches from non-abundant gardens. I used 12-15 okra pods, accumulated from my plants over the course of about a week and a half, for each jar of okra pickles. Really it was however many I could jam into an old, cleaned out spaghetti sauce jar.

How to make refrigerator pickled okra

This refrigerator pickled okra recipe works by first salting the okra and letting it sit in a colander. While it sits, you heat up some vinegar and spices. (Warning: do not take a whiff of said vinegar and spices to see if it smells good – hot vinegar fumes are painful to inhale! Ask me how I know. Instead, just dip your wooden spoon in the mixture, blow if off, and taste it.)

You rinse off your okra and stuff them in a jar. Since these are refrigerator pickles, you don’t need any fancy canning jars or sterilizing water baths or any of that other scary stuff that seems (to me) complicated and easy to mess up in a botulism-friendly way. 

All you need is a nice clean jar large enough to hold all the okra pickles you want to eat. So basically, a giant one.

Okay, this recipe is actually good for a spaghetti-sauce-sized jar but you could adjust it for a giant one.

Easy refrigerator pickled okra is perfect for small batches! No canning experience necessary. Make these okra pickles two ways — sweet and tangy or hot and smoky! | www.pinchmeimeating.com

Let the vinegar cool down a bit and pour it over the top of the okra until the jar is full. Screw on the lid and let it sit in the fridge for a couple days, and voila!

Okra pickles. Addictively delicious okra pickles. 

Making it your own

The best thing about this recipe is that the concept and process is the most important part, so you can mix up the flavors however you want.

That’s how I ended up with refrigerator pickled okra – TWO ways. I made one recipe, wanted to tweak it a little, and made it a second time using my altered recipe.

The first recipe (left) was sweet and tangy, using a mix of white vinegar and apple cider vinegar, combined with a little sugar.

The second time (right) I wanted to try something a little less sweet, so I opted for all white vinegar, much less sugar, and added a bit of smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. 

I actually brought both jars of okra pickles to work because I couldn’t decide which one to post. I had several willing taste testers at work, two of whom preferred the sweet and tangy and one of whom preferred the hot and smoky — although all three testers wanted more tastes of both kinds. 

One said the sweet and tangy refrigerator pickled okra made her want a Bloody Mary. Another said it would be perfect with a charcuterie board. The smoky version? Good with jams and cheeses. Basically, make whichever one contrasts and complements your main event. But for stand-alone snacking, they were divided on their favorite version. I am craving a few more of the sweet-tangy ones myself.

Easy refrigerator pickled okra is perfect for small batches! No canning experience necessary. Make these okra pickles two ways — sweet and tangy or hot and smoky! | www.pinchmeimeating.com

Feel free to mix it up with your own blend of vinegars and spices! I’d love to know what other versions you come up with!

Which okra would you prefer? Your call!

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Easy refrigerator pickled okra is perfect for small batches! No canning experience necessary. Make these okra pickles two ways — sweet and tangy or hot and smoky! | www.pinchmeimeating.com

Sweet and Tangy Refrigerator Pickled Okra

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 1 jar
Author: Caroline Lindsey
Easy refrigerator pickled okra is perfect for small batches! No canning experience necessary. This recipe is for sweet and tangy okra pickles!
Print

Ingredients

  • 13-16 okra pods or however many will fit in a clean spaghetti sauce jar
  • 2 banana peppers sliced, seeds removed (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed with the side of a knife but not cut
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt plus more for salting pods
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp sugar reduce for a less sweet pickle
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Trim stems off okra pods so the tops are flat, but the pod isn't opened up. Sprinkle with kosher salt and set aside in a colander, along with banana peppers.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
  3. Rinse off okra pods and pack tightly into a clean spaghetti sauce jar or other jar, along with banana peppers.
  4. Let vinegar mixture cool for about 10 minutes, then pour over the okra until the jar is full. If there is slightly too much liquid, make sure you get all the "good stuff" in the jar before disposing of any excess vinegar.
  5. Screw on the top and refrigerate for 48 hours. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Serve with a charcuterie board, bloody Mary, or straight out of the jar.
Keeps, refrigerated, for at least 2 weeks.

Easy refrigerator pickled okra is perfect for small batches! No canning experience necessary. Make these okra pickles two ways — sweet and tangy or hot and smoky! | www.pinchmeimeating.com

Hot and Smoky Refrigerator Pickled Okra

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 1 jar
Author: Caroline Lindsey
Easy refrigerator pickled okra is perfect for small batches! No canning experience necessary. This recipe is for hot and smoky okra pickles!
Print

Ingredients

  • 13-16 okra pods or however many will fit in a clean spaghetti sauce jar
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed with the side of a knife but not cut
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt plus more for salting pods
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Trim stems off okra pods so the tops are flat, but the pod isn't opened up. Sprinkle with kosher salt and set aside in a colander.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
  3. Rinse off okra pods and pack tightly into a clean spaghetti sauce jar or other jar.
  4. Let vinegar mixture cool for about 10 minutes, then pour over the okra until the jar is full. If there is slightly too much liquid, make sure you get all the "good stuff" in the jar before disposing of any excess vinegar.
  5. Screw on the top and refrigerate for 48 hours. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper gives these pickles a very mild kick. Adjust the amount to your desired level of spiciness.
Serve with jam and cheese hors d'oeuvres, or straight out of the jar as a snack.
Keeps, refrigerated, for at least 2 weeks.

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    David
    September 4, 2016 at 10:08 am

    Heading to the farmers market in about 45 minutes. Okra is first in the list, and sweet and tangy pickles will be mine by Tuesday! While I am not afraid of canning, one jar at a time is perfect for me. I also make a microwave-version if bread and butter pieces you might like! It’s on Cocoa & Lavender! xx

    • Reply
      Caroline Lindsey
      September 8, 2016 at 8:38 pm

      Awesome!! Did you make these yet? Small-batch canning is great, so I do have an affinity for refrigerator pickles. I’ll have to check out your recipe!

  • Reply
    Julia @ Happy Foods
    September 5, 2016 at 5:45 am

    I’ve never ever tried okra! Can you eat it raw? What does it taste like? Yeah I know what you mean about the botulism – I was scared too, but my homemade jam turned out well and we are still alive so I am guessing all was good! 🙂

    • Reply
      Caroline Lindsey
      September 8, 2016 at 8:36 pm

      Hi Julia! You could probably eat it raw but my favorite ways to eat okra are pickled, in gumbo (you can find my gumbo recipe on the blog), fried, and as part of an okra/tomatoes/corn/onions side dish. So good!! Fried in cornmeal and spices is probably the easiest way to ease into eating okra – there can be a sliminess to it that turns some people off when it’s in soups and stuff, but I can’t get enough of it! Whereabouts do you live? I suppose it’s not uncommon for non-Southerners not to have tried it.

      Glad your jam turned out well! Do you have any canning resources you could point me to?

  • Reply
    David
    September 8, 2016 at 10:38 am

    We ate our first last night and they are great! I actually might add more sugar as I think a bit more sweetness would be especially good with cheese. But just as tart pickles, they are perfect as is! Love this recipe!

    • Reply
      Caroline Lindsey
      September 10, 2016 at 10:03 am

      Glad to hear you liked them! They’re kind of addictive, aren’t they?

  • Reply
    Keith @ How's it Lookin?
    November 27, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    Sounds delicious. The sweet and tangy kind is definitely for me, thanks for the idea

    • Reply
      Caroline Lindsey
      November 27, 2016 at 7:20 pm

      The sweet and tangy ones are addictive! Hope you like them!

  • Reply
    Billy
    June 19, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    I love the pictures you have up for this recipe. They are so helpful in understanding every step of the process. I am a visual learner so its great to be able to cross reference and know I’m not making any mistakes! Thank you for sharing this great recipe, I can’t wait to try it at home!

  • Reply
    Lyssa
    June 20, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Hi Caroline!
    I’m with you on the stressful canning botulism, however, with a little knowledge I think your stress levels will go down and you will enjoy preserving foods! I like to use a water bath to make high-acid products like pickles and okra. A water bath is just a big pot of boiling water- no pressure! I like to use the University of Tennessee’s publications because their information is based on tested research. Here’s a link with canning information: https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/PB724.pdf

    Hope you find that useful! Happy canning!

    • Reply
      Caroline Lindsey
      July 2, 2017 at 3:11 pm

      Thanks for the link! I will have to check that out soon – I’m starting to get baby okra pods in my garden again! I’d love to get into more traditional preserving.

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