I will admit that I was skeptical of this canning project, but I was desperate. My okra plants were producing more okra that I could realistically eat fresh. I was giving away okra daily, and I still had more to spare. I was getting okraed out, but I refuse to waste food. Food waste is one thing that I am passionate about. I meritoriously save vegetable scraps and bones for soup broths before I compost the spent scraps. I freeze my garlic scrapes to use for soups during winter. I eat the stems of chard like most people would eat celery. I refuse to throw away perfectly good food. I am a food waste nut. I also know that in the middle of winter when we have a nice thick blanket of snow on the ground I will have an inexpiable craving for gumbo with okra in it. Grocery store okra in my area is gross; most of the pods are past their prime by the time I see it at the grocery store. I have never seen good looking fresh okra at a grocery store. Okra that I see at the grocery store is sad and puny. My okra is tender, perky, and picture perfect. So in an attempt to preserve my picture perfect and satisfy my winter craving for gumbo, I decided to try my hand at pressure canning okra.
I was worried that this was going to turn out to be a gross mess. I envisioned a slimy end product that grossed me out before I would stir it into pot of gumbo, but I was pleasantly surprised. Fresh okra is a million times better than canned okra, but my canned okra was still better than any grocery store okra. The seeds turned reddish brown and the canning liquid went from clear to a pale yellow green, but the okra tasted fine in a pot dish like gumbo. The okra absorbed a lot of water which can happen in pressure canned products. I would not eat this okra as a side dish by itself, but it does work fine in a pot dish where brown seeds will not be noticed as much. If you are using this okra in a pot dish like gumbo, add it to the end of the cooking time since the okra is already fully cooked. You just want to heat the okra all the way through to serve so no more than 5 minutes of cooking time is needed.
The canning liquid did not turn gross and slimy like I predicted. I chose not to add any salt to my okra because I would rather salt a finished product like gumbo. Since this little canning experiment last year, I have added canned okra to my list of must can items every year. A few jars works fine for our family. The photo above is with Cleamson Spineless okra. I have found this variety cans very well.
Ingredients (makes 9 pints) from National Center for Home Preserving
7 pounds of okra
1. Wash okra and trim the stem ends off. Cut into 1 inch size pieces.
2. Place okra in a large saucepot of boiling water. Boil for 2 minutes. Boiling time does not start until the okra and water mixture have come back up to a boil.
3. Fill hot, sterile jars with okra and boiling liquid leaving 1 inch headspace. I did find that the crevices of the okra produce a lot of air bubbles so you will want to use a rubber spatula, plastic bubble remover (ball sells them in their beginner's canning kit) or wooden spoon to try and remove as many air bubbles as possible.
4. Adjust two piece lids.
5. Process in a pressure canner. Follow the manufacture's instructions for using your pressure canner. Most pressure canners have to build up pressure before the processing time begins and have to depressurize after processing is over, so make sure you have ample time to pressure can. For a dial guage canner, process for 25 minutes at 11 lbs of pressure for pints; at 2,001-4,000 ft process at 12 lbs for 25 minutes; at 4,001-6,000 ft process at 13 lbs of pressure for 25 minutes; at 6,001-8,000 ft process at 14 lbs for 25 minutes. If you are using a weighted guage canner, process pints for 25 minutes at 10 lbs of pressure; if you are above 1,000 ft, process at 15 lbs of pressure for 25 minutes.