Outrageous Okra! Growing, Exploring, Preparing
If you live in Oklahoma, it’s pretty much required that you like okra. Here at Little Sprouts, we LOVE it. This is our third year to grow it. It’s not fussy, doesn’t require a lot of water, is relatively unbothered by pests, and LOVES our hot summers.
During the cooler temperatures of the summer and fall, you will not see a lot of performance out of your okra, but when the days are long and extra hot, it will out perform everything else.
Last year we planted a red okra in our front flower bed. I find the plant to be lovely.
My Little Sprouts LOVE giant plants and miniature plants, so we plant varieties of things that are not typical sizes. This year we planted Clemson spineless because okra spines are POKEY and they kind of hurt. We also planted Star of David because it’s HUGE! Last year we cut down a giant stalk at the end of the season and it was 12 feet tall. We have to bend the plants over to pick them. Our tallest one this year is only up to about 11 feet. It takes about 3 kids to be as tall as okra. 🙂
If you have never eaten or seen okra before it is a pod. There are large tasty seeds inside and when you cut it, it becomes slimey. Okra is the ingredient in Gumbo that makes it slimy.
Okra is very low maintenance. Last year, we had a plague of grasshoppers in Oklahoma. From what I can tell, we are gearing up for a repeat performance. The grasshoppers ate every single leaf on my okra to a nub last year and the okra kept right on producing like it didn’t even notice. I have not seen anything else eat my okra plants. I do see a lot of ants on the okra, but they don’t eat it, they just crawl around. They seem particularly interested in the flowers for some reason. Ants do some pollinating in the garden, so I just leave them alone.
Our basic methods here at Little Sprouts include not much pest management. We pretty much let nature take it’s course. We don’t use any sprays, chemicals, or homemade recipes. We just live and let live. On occasion we will pick bugs by hand because it’s fun, but these occasions are rare.
There are several ways to prepare okra and all of them are delicious. You can boil it with some seasoning until it’s tender. This is the slimiest way to eat it. The slime puts many people off. You can eat okra raw and it’s delicious. It is not slimy if you leave the pods whole until you are ready to eat. It tastes fresh and crisp. You can roast okra with olive oil, salt and pepper. I usually cut it in half lengthwise when I roast it. I heat the oven to 375 and roast until browned. The more brown you roast it, the less slime it has left. You can pickle okra just like you would cucumbers. This is one of my favorite preparations. Put the whole pods in a jar tightly packed and add boiling brine. Then place the lid on the jar, when it cools store it in the refrigerator. It’s really yummy like this.
Most of the okra we harvest is eaten fried. That is definitely the most yummy way to enjoy it. To fry it, slice it, then dust it with flour, salt, and pepper. Preheat about 1/4 inch of coconut oil in a pan. When okra placed in the oil begins to bubble, your oil is hot enough. Place a few pieces at a time in your pan and cook until golden on the bottom, turn the okra over and brown the other side. Drain on a paper towel and sprinkle on a little salt. It’s spectacular. I also dust it with flour, salt, and pepper, and then toss it in a quart size freezer bag and freeze it. I can fry it up later, just like I did above and we have okra to enjoy in the winter time. Good times!
What is your experience with okra?