Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Yesterday, Ryan and I decided we have no problem turning a profit on okra, even in the summer heat. Three plants, five to six feet tall and we have had at least 40 okra already and so much more on the way I cannot even keep up with it. Generally we like to give excess produce away, but in the case of okra, there are not many takers. It's not really something my Mom liked to fix us growing up and given the snotty, slimy properties it displays as soon as you cut or bite into it, I don't exactly blame her. But in this case I am determined to acquire a taste for it, not only because it is hands down the lowest maintenance crop I have ever grown (and one of the only that not just survives Florida August but thrives in it), but because it is loaded with tons of nutritional benefits, one of which comes from it's off-putting slime. The mucilaginous property in this pod is excellent for your detoxification system. It slimes up those intestines real good and helps with the movement of the bowels (peristalsis to be technical), carrying that nasty waste right to it's toilet bowl death. By the way a little fry action might help the okra go down but it destroys the benefits described in the previous sentence, so take it easy on the fry daddy and oil, peeps. Okra is also low in calories and high in good fiber (another BM plus). As if there needs to be any more benefits, the mini slimer pod also contains decent amounts of Vitamins A (skin, mucous membrane health and vision), B (energy plus SO much more), C (immunity...baby) and K (essential blood clotting and bone strength). So what, you may ask, are you going to do with all of this okra, Randi? To which my response is ask not what okra can do with you, but what you can do with okra? Pickle it, freeze it, grill it (thanks Paiger), saute it, eat it fresh, your choice. Since I happen to be on a bit of a picky diet at this time, so far I have frozen and pickled it. When I am done with my cleanse I found a great recipe for okra and shrimp that I am dying to try.
Harvesting Okra 
This is important folks. You must stay on top of harvesting these suckers. Once they get too big the are NO GOOD TO EAT. You might as well be gnawing on a piece of wood if you let these sit on the plant to long. You will know they are only good for seed saving when the ridges start to sink in. Ideally you will want to pick them when they are 2-4 inches long. Mine are growing so fast I let them go to 4-5 inches. Also, it is best to wear gloves when messing with these plants as the leaves are VERY irritating. If you look really close you will see each leaf contains thousands of prickly little spikes. I am guessing this is why they are so bug resistant. Another plus of the okra plant are these beautiful flowers that are only open for a short period of time during the day.

In hindsight, I could have packed these better.

EASY BREEZY. Pick your pods. Wash them and drain them, if they are small enough to leave whole and fit in the jar then just take a sharp knife and cut a 1/4 inch of each end. If you prefer you can slice them and pickle them that way.
 After jars and lids are sterilize pack them with your okra and a couple of cloves of garlic. Boil water, salt, vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar) and any other pickling spices you prefer (I used hot peppers, dill seed and mustard seed) for a couple of minutes, then funnel into jars.
Boil in water bath for 10 minutes to seal. Wait a couple of weeks, then enjoy!

Freezing okra is best when you blanch them first. So take your pods and wash them. Then cut off top stem, being careful not to break the seed pod (slime). Start a pot of water to boil and while you are waiting get ready with a colander and a ice water bath. Once the water is boiling add your okra and let boil for 3-4 minutes (no longer). Strain okra of hot water then immediately submerge in ice bath to stop them from over cooking. Let sit in the ice bath for a couple of minutes until they are cold to the touch. Strain again and lay out to dry a little. I like to place them on a baking sheet to pre-freeze so they don't end up in one giant frozen clump but you could skip this step. Place blanched okra in a freezer bag and get as much air out as you possibly can (use a food saver if you have one). Place in the freezer. Whala!

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