I've said it before; I'll say it again. If you've got more veggies than you can eat, that's a good problem to have. But it is a problem. And one that's easily solved. You can preserve them for later enjoyment by canning them (see my previous post on this), but if you've got a plethora or peppers and okra like I do, consider pickling. Both find their flavors amplified and elevated with a simple solution of vinegar, salt, sugar and spices. Eat pickled okra plain or use it to make Southern Sushi (recipe to come in a following post). And pickled peppers are a great base for a relish that adds a nice punch to sandwiches or cheese plates. I slightly modified a recipe from Southern Living for mine. Here's how you do it.
Pickled Okra and/or Peppers
Step 1: Boil your canning jars with their lids and seals in a large pot of water. Carefully remove them and set aside on a dish towel.
Step 2: Fill another large pot 2/3 of the way full with water and bring it to a simmer.
Step 3: Bring 4 cups of white vinegar, 4 cups of water, 1/2 cup of salt and 1/4 cup sugar to a boil and let cook for a few minutes.
Step 4: Jam as many fresh okra or sweet and hot pepper slices as you can into each sterilized jar along with one clove of garlic, some hot pepper slices (for the okra) and a few onion slices (optional). You can really add any spices you like. But don't add too much of anything; you'll overpower the flavor of your veggies.
Step 5: Pour the hot pickling liquid into the jars with your okra or peppers, stopping about a 1/2 inch from the top of the jar.
Step 6: Wipe the jar tops clean if you spilled any liquid, then place the lids on your jars and turn until just tight. If you've got a canning rack, place the jars in the rack and set them into the second pot of hot water. If you don't have a rack, use tongs to very carefully set them down into the water. Add more water if needed to cover the tops of the jars by about an inch.
Step 7: Bring the water with the jars in it to a boil, and let it heat the jars for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the jars sit in the water for another 10 minutes to cool down some. Carefully remove the jars and let them sit, undisturbed for at least 12 hours.
Step 8: Test the seals on your finished pickled veggies by pressing down on the center of each jar top. If there is any give (if it moves up and down), you'll need to re-process the jars. First take off the lids and look for any nicks in the rubber seal. If needed, use a new jar. Then, put the unsealed jars back into boiling water for 10-15 minutes, and let them rest again before a re-test. If there's no give in the lid on the first test, you're done! Your pickles will keep for about a year, and there's no need to refrigerate.