Canning okra can be done in a pressure canner or in a water bath canner if you pickle okra first. Okra should be blanched and hot packed into sanitized canning jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Canning pressure and processing time will vary depending on elevation.
What is the Best Way to Preserve Okra?
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, pressure canning is the best method for home canning low-acid vegetables, including okra.
How to Pressure Can Okra
Safely can okra in a pressure canner by following these steps:
- Start by washing the okra pods in cool, running water.
- Trim and discard the ends. Cut okra pods into 1-inch pieces or leave them whole, as desired.
- Place the okra pieces in a large saucepan and pour hot water over them.
- Bring the water to a boil, and let the okra remain in the boiling water for two minutes.
- Use a strainer to dump the water. Do not submerge the okra in cold water – keep them hot.
- Pack the hot okra into pint or quart jars, leaving 1-inch headspace in each jar.
- Add 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt per pint or 1 teaspoon per quart-sized canning jar (optional).
- Fill jars with boiling water, maintaining the 1-inch headspace.
- Remove any air bubbles with an air bubble remover tool.
- Wipe the jar rims and put new canning lids on the jars. Apply screw bands and tighten until fingertip tight.
- Prepare the pressure canner per the manufacturer’s instructions, ensuring it has 2-4 inches of hot water in the base and the jar rack installed.
- Transfer the jars to the pressure canner using a jar lifter or canning tongs. Cover with a lid and let the pressure canner vent steam for 10 minutes.
- Process the jars at a PSI determined by altitude and the type of pressure canner per the tables below:
Processing time for pressure canning okra in a weighted-gauge pressure canner:
|Altitude (ft)||0 – 1000||1,001 +|
|Pint jars (25 mins)||10 lbs||15 lbs|
|Quart jars (40 mins)||10 lbs||15 lbs|
Processing time for pressure canning okra in a dial-gauge pressure canner:
|Altitude (ft)||0 – 2,000||2,001 – 4,000||4,001 – 6,000||6,001 – 8,000|
|Pints (25 mins)||11 lbs||12 lbs||13 lbs||14 lbs|
|Quarts (40 mins)||11 lbs||12 lbs||13 lbs||14 lbs|
- Once the canner reaches the appropriate pressure, begin timing. The processing time for pints is 25 minutes, while the time for quarts is 40 minutes.
- Once the processing time has passed, let the canner cool and allow the pressure to drop to zero before removing the lid.
- Let the jars remain in the canner for 5 minutes before removing them with canning tongs. Set them on a towel-covered surface to cool at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
- Remove the bands from the jars and check that the jars are properly sealed. The lids should be indented and should not flex up and down if you press on them.
- Store the properly sealed jars in a cool, dry place. Refrigerate and use the contents for any jars that didn’t seal within 3 days.
How Long Does Canning Okra Take?
It takes 25-40 minutes to can okra in a pressure canner. This does not include prep time. The total time can vary depending on your elevation and the size of your canning jars.
Can Okra Be Canned in a Water Bath?
No, the only safe way to can okra is pressure canning. Okra is a low-acid food and requires high heat to destroy harmful microorganisms that could cause food-borne illness.
Pickling okra is required if you wish to process it in a water bath canner. Pickling raises the acidity of low-acid foods and inhibits the germination of bacteria.
How to Pickle Okra
To preserve okra in a boiling water bath, you must first pickle it.
Before preparing the okra, make a pickle brine by mixing water and vinegar in a 1:1 ratio and add 3 tablespoons of pickling salt and the spices desired for flavoring. Bring the mixture to a boil, ensuring the canning salt dissolves.
- Use white vinegar (5%) for safety. Avoid using apple cider vinegar as this can cause cloudiness.
- Garlic cloves, pink peppercorns, coriander seeds, and dill seeds are the best spices for pickled okra.
Once the brine is done, begin preparing the okra for pickling.
- To prepare pickled okra, start by rinsing the vegetables and removing the ends.
- Cut okra into slices or leave whole. Transfer the okra to a large saucepan of boiling water.
- Cook the okra for two minutes in boiling water before removing the hot okra and placing it into hot, sterilized canning jars.
- Fill the canning jars with pickle brine, leaving 1-inch headspace.
- Use a bubble remover tool to remove air bubbles. Okra has many pockets, so de-bubbling can take some time.
- Wipe the rims of the jars.
- Apply new canning lids and screw bands. Ensure the bands are fingertip tight.
- Transfer the jars using a jar lifter into a prepared boiling water canner that has been half filled with boiling water. Set the jars onto the canning rack inside.
- Add more boiling water to ensure the water level is 1-2 inches above the tops of the jars.
- Once the water is at a rolling boil, process the jars for 10-15 minutes per elevation:
|Altitude (ft)||0 – 1,000||1,001 +|
|Pint jars||10 minutes||15 minutes|
|Quart jars||10 minutes||15 minutes|
- Remove the lid from the canner and carefully transfer the processed jars to a towel-covered countertop.
- Allow the jars to cool at room temperature for 12-24 hours before checking their seals.
- Remove screw bands and store sealed jars in a cool, dry place.
Can Okra Be Canned Without Sugar?
Yes, okra can be pressure canned without sugar. However, some okra recipes may require some sugar to slightly balance out the acidity of the brine solution for pickled okra.
Can Okra Be Canned for Frying?
Yes, canned okra is ideal for frying. Canned fried okra will taste like fresh okra if you cut it into small pieces, boil it for a few minutes in salted water, coat it in cornmeal and fry it in hot oil.
What is the Shelf Life of Canned Okra?
Properly stored canned okra can last for 2–5 years. Store canned okra in a cool, dry place for maximum quality and freshness. Pickled okra that is canned in a water bath canner has a shelf life of 12 months.
Once opened, pickled or canned okra must be used within a few days and kept in the refrigerator.