10 Ways to Use Excess Okra from the Garden
When the summer gets hot and humid in the south, the okra plants wake up and put out tons of excess okra at once. What can you do with okra that you can’t eat right now?
We love okra. We grow okra in the garden every year. It takes a while for it to get going, but once it does, it puts out a ton at once until the weather cools down. In Oklahoma, that’s a lonnnnggg time. We have at least three months of hot humid days over 90 degrees and sometimes four months. Heat-loving plants like okra do great here.
What to do with excess okra from the garden
Okra lasts for about a week in the refrigerator, but then what? Our favorite way to eat okra is fried as we show in this post, but there are tons of other ways to eat it. Fried is definitely the most popular way around here.
Eating raw okra
Did you know that you can eat okra raw? It’s delicious! It’s not slimy unless you cut it ahead of time and let it sit. If you pull it off the stalk and just much away, it’s crisp and fresh tasting. I don’t even think it needs seasoning. Maybe it would be good with a little salt and dill. I’ve never tried it that way, but we eat it raw as a side dish sometimes. I just serve a bowl of it whole.
I know, you’re skeptical. I was too before I tried it. They had a raw crazy at the farmer’s market one summer and they offered it. I was like, no thanks. They said, come on and try it. I was glad I did because I love it.
Freezing breaded okra
The easiest way to save a ton of okra is freezing. Most things you freeze need to be blanched, but we never blanch our okra and it saves great. We’ve eaten it months later and it was still good. Just slice it into ½ inch pieces like you would for frying, bread it in your desired breading, and toss it in a zip lock bag. Make sure to freeze it right away so it won’t get soggy and stick together.
You can bread it with flour, salt, and pepper or a mixture of flour and cornmeal. Whatever you like works great.
Cooking frozen okra
The key to cooking frozen okra is to get the oil nice and hot. If you put it in the oil before it’s hot enough, it will absorb a lot of oil and be soggy. Make sure you cook it long enough to get it super crispy too. It’s almost as good as straight from the garden-fresh fried okra and you can enjoy the taste of summertime way into fall and winter.
Refrigerator pickled okra
Our second favorite way to enjoy excess okra is to pickle it. We can’t serve home-canned food at daycare, so we make refrigerator pickles to enjoy. The recipe is super easy. Check out how to make refrigerated pickled okra here.
You can use the same recipe to make fermented okra by setting it on the counter with the lid on loosely for at least 3 days before refrigerating. Seven days makes it even better. You can also ferment okra without vinegar like this post shows.
How to can okra
Canning is the best way to preserve your garden surplus because it’s shelf-stable and doesn’t require any electricity to stay good. Here is the method for canning okra to store in your pantry.
Canned okra recipe
Now that you have canned okra to use, how do you use it? It would be great to dump into any of the gumbo, stew, and other boiled okra recipes below. If you want to fry it, just dump the jar of okra out into a colander and let it drain. Don’t rinse it or anything. Then dredge and fry as normal.
Canned okra has a shelf life of 12-18 months, so there is plenty of time to find ways to use it.
Canned okra can also be used for roasted okra using the same draining method as for fried. Check out all of these recipes to use fresh and frozen okra and give the canned okra a spin with those. All this talk about okra is making me hungry!
Dehydrating okra to use later or even eat as a snack is simple and delicious. Check out this dried okra recipe and see how easy it is.
Boiled okra recipe
Of course shrimp gumbo is the most famous way to eat boiled okra and it’s a classic. Check out the recipe for a yummy shrimp and okra gumbo here.
This wonderful shrimp creole stew made with homemade nourishing bone broth would be another wonderful way to boil okra.
This Middle Eastern Bamya Okra Stew that’s cooked with tomatoes and served over rice looks amazing.
Baked okra fries and chips
Okra chips sounds amazing and I can’t wait to try them after I saw this recipe for Crispy Oven Baked Okra Chips.
What about making okra fries? That sounds so good and these Cajun Oven-Roasted Okra Fries are baked right in the oven.
Sauteed okra recipe
There are so many great recipes for sauteed okra. Check out this spicy Indian Bhindi recipe.
Air fryer okra
The air fryer is a great tool to make yummy crispy food without all the fat. Check out this amazing air fryer okra recipe. I can’t wait to try it.
You can also bake okra until it’s crispy in the oven with this recipe.
Toss that okra on the grill and make these Farmer’s Market Tacos with them. I bet it tastes amazing. I’m going to try it with the next batch of corn we harvest.
Of course, you can always share your excess okra with neighbors, friends, and homeless shelters. They will all love getting it too.
Happy gardening! For more ways to use excess produce from the garden, check out how to use excess hot peppers, excess tomatoes, excess sweet potatoes, excess herbs, excess greens, excess green beans, excess cucumbers, and excess peaches.
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