This year, our Western Michigan summer has been full of warm days, warm nights, and just barely enough rain. Okra just loves these conditions, and ours has been producing quite nicely these past few weeks.
Here’s a link to the Seedsavers page that shows the Burgundy Okra we planted this year, The plants and pods are simply beautiful. They take awhile to grow, but once they start flowering it’s wise to watch them daily as the pods will grow very quickly. If the pods get too big, they are very fibrous and no fun to eat. We only have about a dozen plants but they are yielding several new pods just about every day. Today I noticed one got pretty big, so I left it on the plant for seeds. We pick them when they are about 4 to 6 inches long. Sometimes I’ll get them when they’re a little longer… but that can be a gamble. Best way to pick is to use a sharp knife and carefully slice the stem from the plant.
When we travel, one of our favorite dishes is the deep fried okra at Cracker Barrel. However, we don’t deep fry much stuff. That’s a very good thing for us, we just don’t want to clog our arteries very often (once in a great while is kinda fun though). We mostly use okra in soups and stir fry dishes. It’s a wonderful thickening agent for either. Obviously, we don’t eat okra every day so we cut it up and freeze it.
Our method is pretty simple:
- Remove the blossom leftovers from the pod.
- Cut the tops off
- Slice into 1/4 inch pieces (no need to be precise). Some folks might toss the tapered ends, but we eat them.
- Place on a greased pan. Lightly coat the pan with olive oil or vegetable oil, I used a couple spritzes of olive oil spray and wiped the excess away with a paper towel. Then finally…
- Place the pan in the freezer overnight.
Once the pieces are frozen, we stash them in a quart size freezer bag until it’s full, Then downstairs it goes into the big upright freezer. The nice thing about storing okra this way is that it remains loose in the bag, so it’s easy to get just the amount you want to cook at any given time.
Important note: Mr. Olson, our friendly Muskegon Appliance Dealer (God rest his soul) taught me years ago that It’s important to use a non-frost free type of freezer when storing frozen food for extended time periods. Frost free freezers are constantly freezing and thawing; which is the culprit responsible for freezer burn. Following his advice, we bought the non-frost free type. Only have to thaw it out every couple years or so.