Thursday, August 19, 2010

garden 2010-okra

 The okra  has been growing well through our hot, dry spell, and has begun producing like crazy in the last week or so. Most of our okra got eaten by deer last year, so I wanted to be sure and have enough this year, even if they ate a couple patches of it. I have 4, 8x4 foot beds and 4, 2x8 beds of it growing. Three of the beds are just beginning to flower this week and the rest are giving me about 3 quarts of okra per day. I have about 15 quarts frozen so far and am confident that I will get plenty more to get us through the winter.

This year we planted mostly Clemson spineless  along with a little bit of Alabama Red. The red okra is my favorite  of all the okras types I have tried. Big fat, tender pods  that could double as  Christmas ornaments, if Christmas was in  August.

Being the damned Yankee that I am, I had never  eaten  okra until I moved South. The first few times I ate it down here, I found it truly disgusting because of the slime factor. Since we started striving for sustainability, I had to learn to like okra, because it has so many uses on a homestead.  The pods can be eaten  fresh, dehydrated or frozen. The seeds in the pods can be dried and used like a pea, or dried, roasted  and used as a replacement for coffee.  Okra can also be used as a thickener in  some dishes, either in vegetable form or  dried and powdered. The critters all love okra pods and plants too so there is no waste in growing a lot of okra.

I have learned over time that the secret to okra is in the choosing when to harvest, the handling and cooking of  it.  Okra is best at about 3-4 inches in length. If you let it grow larger, it gets tough and tastes like shoe leather. Pick okra the day you plan on using it, if you must  store it in the fridge, rinse it off, pat dry and put in a bowl. Always handle and cut okra with dry hands and on a dry surface, the slime is nasty if you don't.

Many people  believe that okra is only good in gumbo, or coated with batter and deep fried. While  I too believed this for several years, those are my least favorite ways to eat okra these days. Very small pods, left whole, are excellent  in stir fries or steamed. The seeds after dehydration,  are very good in soups, stews, and rice dishes, and are a great way to use  the okra that got away. The "coffee" is my favorite coffee substitute. My favorite dish  for okra is  blackened okra. It is flash cooked,  very good and  can be served with most any  main dish or served over rice as a main dish.

Blackened okra
1lb okra (sliced in half down the middle)
2 tbsp butter
1 large onion (sliced or diced)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 tsp paprika
dash cayenne or fresh  hot pepper
1/2 tsp  black pepper
salt to taste

In large frying pan or wok, heat butter until hot and starting to turn brown. Add all ingredients and fry for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, add salt and serve hot.
not my picture, mine are still stuck on the other comp.


  1. I had never had Okra until I moved to the States. Now I really love pickled okra, and I'm starting to really like (oven) fried okra. There are also several pods that got huge and I will try and dry them and paint them as Christmas ornaments. We'll see how that turns out...

  2. Well I never thought to dehydrate it. That would cut out the slime factor I am sure! I love the seeds they taste like sweet corn. I still want to pickle it but I have yet to have a good crop. Oh well there is always next year isn't there?

  3. I try okra again and again, hoping I will like it enough to grow it just because it is a versitile vegetable. So far, no luck in any of the various forms and methods of preparing. Funny thing it, I never have noticed the "slime" everyone talks's the taste for me.
    Glad you are having such a great crop of it!

  4. GFG- It may just not get hot and dry enough up yonder for you to grow a good crop of it.. we always had a garden up in WNY and i never knew anyone that grew okra in it

    HP- when all else fails, put lots of ranch on it :)

    Anke-I have never tried pickled okra, it just sounds disgusting to me:) ...maybe one day someone will have a jar of them made and I can try one to see if it is worth making