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Cooks in the American South have long known that pickled okra is as sublime as condiments get. The key is to use the freshest okra you can find to ensure that the pickled vegetable will be crisp. Roll pickled okra in prosciutto, use as a cocktail garnish or add to egg salad.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups cider vinegar (5 percent acidity)
  • 2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. mustard seeds
  • 1 Tbs. cumin seeds
  • 6 dried whole chilies
  • 24 garlic cloves
  • 3 lb. okra, stem ends trimmed

Directions:

Have ready 6 hot, sterilized one-pint jars and their lids.

In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine the vinegar and salt. Add 3 1/2 cups water, set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt.

Meanwhile, in each jar, put 1 tsp. mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds, 1 chili and 4 garlic cloves. Tightly pack the okra, stem ends up, into the jars to within 3/4 inch of the rims.

Ladle the hot brine into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and adjust the headspace, if necessary. Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with the lids.

Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 7 minutes. Let the jars stand undisturbed for 24 hours and then set them aside for 2 weeks for the flavors to develop. The sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. If a seal has failed, store the jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Makes 6 one-pint jars.

Adapted from The Art of Preserving, by Lisa Atwood, Rebecca Courchesne & Rick Field (Weldon Owen, 2010).