Marisa McClellan, author of the new cookbook “Food in Jars,” says that anyone who has never canned or preserved food before might want to start with pickling foods like dilly beans or okra. “They are incredibly easy to make,” says Marisa, and “can take as little as 45 minutes to make a batch of pickles from start to finish, and that includes the clean-up time.”

Marisa agreed to share her pickled okra recipe with us, a food she says in the book is “a dream eaten alongside a plate of spicy food.”


  • 3 cups/720 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 4 lemon slices
  • 4 tablespoons Mixed Pickling Spice, divided (You can buy ready-made pickling spice. Marisa gives directions for her personal mix in the cookbook.)
  • 2 pounds/910 g okra, washed and trimmed
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled


  1. Prepare a boiling water bath and 4 regular-mouth 1-pint/500 ml jars. Place the lids in a small saucepan, cover them with water, and simmer over very low heat.
  2. Combine the vinegar, 3 cups/720 ml water, and pickling salt in a pot and bring the brine to a boil.
  3. Meanwhile, put a lemon slice and 1 tablespoon pickling spice in the bottom of each sterilized jar. Then pack the okra in, first laying them in so that the points are up. Then insert another layer with the points down, so that they interlock. Nestle 1 garlic clove among the okra in each jar.
  4. Slowly pour the hot brine over the okra in each jar, leaving 1/2 inch/12 mm headspace. Gently tap the jars on a towel-lined countertop to help loosen any bubbles before using a wooden chopstick to dislodge any remaining bubbles. Check the headspace again and add more brine if necessary.
  5. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
  6. Let these pickles cure for at least 1 week before eating.

Yeild: 4 (1-pint/500 ml) jars

Note: You’ll find that this recipe calls for you to make more brine than many of the other similarly scaled recipes. Because okra pods are hollow, they will absorb a great deal of the brine. When you’ve finished filling and bubbling all the jars, they will invariably require topping off. What’s more, the brine level will drop radically after you remove the jars from the canner: Do not be alarmed. The brine has simply migrated inside the okra pods. There is no need to remove the lids to top off the liquid; as long as the seal is good, they are safe to store and eat.

Also on MNN: Meet Marissa McClellan, small-batch canning expert

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Marisa McClellan's pickled okra recipe
Straight from the pages of the small-batch canning cookbook 'Food in Jars,' pickled okra is a great starter recipe for beginning canners.