Okra shrink and float when pickled. To get the most in each jar, pack one layer of okra with stem ends down and tips up and another layer with stem ends up and tips down, interlacing the tips in the middle of the jar.
Sterilize jars, and prepare lids.
While jars are boiling, wash okra and trim stems, leaving caps intact. Combine vinegar, salt, dill seeds, and 3 cups water in large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil.
Place 1 garlic clove and, if desired, 1 hot pepper half in each hot jar. Pack okra pods tightly in jars, placing some stem end down and some stem end up and leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Cover okra with hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
Seal and process jars, processing 10 minutes.
Remove jars from water, and let stand, undisturbed, at room temperature 24 hours. To check seals, remove the bands, and press down on the center of each lid. If the lid doesn't move, the jar is sealed. If the lid depresses and pops up again, the jar is not sealed. Store properly sealed jars in a cool, dark place up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.
Total time: 50 min., plus 3 weeks standing time
Southern Living Little Jars, Big Flavors