Brown Thumbs
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Okra question

We have two small rows of Clemson spineless okra (approximately 30 plants total). It doesn't make enough to make a meal daily, so I've been cutting pods and then rinsing them, let dry, and freeze whole in a gallon size bag. The idea was to keep adding pods until we had enough to fry.

My problem is when I thawed to cut up they were really soggy, not firm. They still tasted good, but I wondered if I could do something different so they wouldn't be. Any tips?

The plants get minimum direct sun and may be why they're not producing a lot. Plants look healthy and are around 5 ft tall now. I do cut lower limbs off as I pick.
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gumbo2176
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Re: Okra question

Well, as you now know, you can't keep okra fresh if frozen. You can keep it for several days in the fridge and accumulate enough for a good fry. I would rinse them, let them dry thoroughly and then put them in a container or even a plastic grocery bag in the veg. tray of your fridge.

It is great grilled if you've never tried it that way. I take them and lay them out on a flat surface with one pod facing right, then one facing left---meaning the stem end is opposite the one in front of it. I'll do this for up to about 10 pods and then skewer them on both ends to make a raft. Brush them with some olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder and grill them till done like any other vegetable. Most excellent fixed that way.

Or you can also pickle the pods in a salty vinegar brine like you would can any other vegetable.

I also like to smother okra down to use in gumbo and soups. Cut the pods in rings and cook them down with onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic and diced tomatoes along with some tabasco, worchestershire sauce, salt and pepper. This should cook for about 3 hours on a low boil and stirred fairly often so it doesn't stick.

gumbo2176
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Re: Okra question

To answer your final question. I usually grow about 75 okra plants every summer and never cut anything off them. Some folks like to top the plants so they don't get crazy tall. Mine generally get to about 8 ft. tall by the time I'm ready to take them out.

I didn't plant any this year due to having a lot of work to do on my house that took too much time away from the garden.

Edited to add this: My garden gets full sun all day long and I could count on picking about 1 pod per plant per day, so it didn't take me long to get all I needed and then some. They love heat and are very drought tolerant.

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Gary350
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Re: Okra question

Okra is a crazy plant. It grows very slow at first it will take a whole month to get 12" tall. It will take another month to get 3 ft tall. When rain stops and temperatures gets very hot 100 degrees okra takes off growing fast. It will grow 6 ft tall in another month then it will make more okra pods than you can eat. Don't get in a hurry just wait. Okra does not seem to care if soil is good or bad, it does not seem to grow better if you fertilize it. The hotter and dryer the weather gets the better okra likes it. It loves full sun all day. My okra only gets about 5 hours of sun in the morning. I let my okra grow until frost killed it about Halloween. I let it go to seed and dry in the garden then harvest pods, put them in the garage until they get dryer then harvest the seeds. Okra seeds make good soup just like dry beans.

xtron
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Re: Okra question

in my experience the best way to keep okra is to dehydrate it. you can keep a huge amount in a 1/2 gallon jar. in fact the first time I tried it, I wondered where all my okra had gone, it shrank down that much. but the first time I rehydrated it, I thought I didn't have enough only to have more than I needed, it grew that much. and breaded and deep fried, it tastes just like you picked it an hour ago.

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applestar
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Re: Okra question

Now I feel like growing some. I wonder if there's still time? The bed I'm thinking of is outside the protected zones -- Do rabbits go after the seedlings or small plants?
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gumbo2176
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Re: Okra question

applestar wrote:Now I feel like growing some. I wonder if there's still time? The bed I'm thinking of is outside the protected zones -- Do rabbits go after the seedlings or small plants?

Not sure when your first frost is, but it's been my experience, like already mentioned, that okra grows very slow in the beginning and takes off. I usually plant okra in late April/early May and pulled the plants, still producing, in early to mid September. By late June/early July on, I was picking it every day until they were yanked out the garden to make room for fall/winter crops.

As for rabbits, I have no clue since my garden is in the middle of my urban lot.

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applestar
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Re: Okra question

So if I hurry up and sow seeds (maybe soak them first?), they will get the hot weather to grow in, and hopefully I will see production in early September, and if we are lucky and have hot September days, all the better.

First frost here has been later recently -- maybe end of October.
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Re: Okra question

If you decide to grow some, be aware that they can be a bear to remove. Mature okra plants can get huge and I've seen the main stalk get to be 2-3 inches in diameter over the growing season. What I do to remove them is cut them about 2 ft. off the ground, strip the leaves off the main stem and pile them up to run my mower over them to add to my compost pile and then take the rest of the plant out of the ground, often having to dig them out and using brute strength to pull them.

When all the stalks and root systems are out of the ground, I'll toss them in the back of my pickup and off to the dump I go, but that is only because I generally grow between 60-75 okra plants and by seasons end, many of them are 8+ ft. tall.

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Gary350
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Re: Okra question

applestar wrote:So if I hurry up and sow seeds (maybe soak them first?), they will get the hot weather to grow in, and hopefully I will see production in early September, and if we are lucky and have hot September days, all the better.

First frost here has been later recently -- maybe end of October.
Give it a go plant some okra. Plant seeds like corn about 8" apart. They grow better in rows than a patch. Harvest 4" pods for slicing and deep frying. Let plants make seeds if you want seeds. Frost will kill my plants 1st week of Nov. Dead plants are like pulling up dead corn stalks I usually wait until about December to pull them up roots will have decomposed a little by then. I throw my dead plants all over the garden by spring they have mostly turned to compose. The easiest way to remove okra stalked is with a shovel just push it into the soil next to the plant and push the handle down the plant comes up. Knock the dirt off the roots then throw the plant some where.
Last edited by Gary350 on Sat Jul 08, 2017 11:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.

gumbo2176
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Re: Okra question

Gary350 wrote:
applestar wrote:So if I hurry up and sow seeds (maybe soak them first?), they will get the hot weather to grow in, and hopefully I will see production in early September, and if we are lucky and have hot September days, all the better.

First frost here has been later recently -- maybe end of October.
Give it a go plant some okra. Plant seeds like corn about 8" apart. They grow better in rows than a patch. Harvest 4" pods for slicing and deep frying. Let plants make seeds if you want seeds. Frost will kill the plants. Dead plants are like pulling up dead corn stalks I usually wait until about December to pull them out of the ground roots will have decomposes a little by then. I throw my dead plants all over the garden by spring it has mostly turned to compose.

I wish I could leave my plants in the ground to naturally break down over time, but my garden is not all that big and I love to use that space for fall/winter crops, so they have to come out by mid September. I too grow mine in rows as it make picking okra easier than reaching into a heavily growing patch.

My poor wife can't even think of picking okra since she will get so itchy it drives her nuts. As for me, I've grown use to the chore of popping off the pods and the prickly hairs of the plant no longer bother me. As hot as it is here, I refuse to wear a long sleeve shirt and gloves to pick okra.

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applestar
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Re: Okra question

I soaked and sowed some Clemson Spineless and Alabama Red, but it turned out my seeds are kind of old, so I'm not sure what kind of germination I will get. I sowed extra, extra, which should mean there will be more than enough, but we'll see.

I will have to get new seeds for next year, or if these germinate, save at least one plant for seed-making (sacrifice and allow first pod to mature to ensure pod will have the chance to fully mature before frost).

...what varieties do you grow?
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pepperhead212
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Re: Okra question

I grow okra in SIPs now, as it grows much better in there, plus it used to get some disease when I grew it in the ground, and I got very little out of them. Emerald is my favorite. It is spineless, and seems to stay more tender than most when it gets large - 6 in. is about as large as I let it get, and many are very fibrous by then.

I had trouble this season with okra - something pulling the seedlings out of the pots, or chewing the tops off. I'm thinking birds of some sort, which also seemed to be doing a similar thing to bean seedlings.
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applestar
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Re: Okra question

Looked for Emerald, found it and your review at Baker Creek! :lol: and their description said it's a Campbell Soup Co variety! Ha I think I might have to grow this one next year!!
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gumbo2176
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Re: Okra question

applestar wrote:I soaked and sowed some Clemson Spineless and Alabama Red, but it turned out my seeds are kind of old, so I'm not sure what kind of germination I will get. I sowed extra, extra, which should mean there will be more than enough, but we'll see.

I will have to get new seeds for next year, or if these germinate, save at least one plant for seed-making (sacrifice and allow first pod to mature to ensure pod will have the chance to fully mature before frost).

...what varieties do you grow?

I always grow Clemson Spineless and have had great success with it over the years. Every once in a while I'm tempted to give the red variety a go, but always stick with what I know to do well for me.

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applestar
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Re: Okra question

Good to know. They started to sprout yesterday and are unfolding their first leaves. They must be loving the current heatwave! We have Heat and Air quality warnings for tomorrow....
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jeff84
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Re: Okra question

chopped and breaded okra is sold in the freezer section of my grocery store. if I had to guess they do them like other frozen, fried food. they bread and partially fry it in a deep fryer, then pull it out of the oil before its done cooking so it can be flash frozen and packaged.

so do it like you would if you were going to fry t, but instead of frying it up all the way lay the not quite done okra on a some wax paper in he freezer and oncets frozen tuck it away in freezer bags.

when you are ready to eat it, just take it straight from the freezer to the fryer, or even the oven. don't let it thaw, as you already know it will turn to mush

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Gary350
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Re: Okra question

I never had good cooked okra until I moved to TN. Other places I lived no one know what to do with okra, it was the nastiest, stickiest, slimmest, itchy stuff I ever saw. No one in the family grew the stuff. When I moved to TN 40 years ago people talked about how good okra is, I thought they were all nuts. One day I ate dinner at a buffet I got some of that golden brown fried crunch stuff WOW it was so good I went back for more. I ask someone, what is that stuff and they said, fried okra. If someone had told me that was okra I would have never tried it. There is a trick to cooking okra. I put 2 cups of flour in a large bowl, add 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Most people in TN add 1/4 cup corn meal but I like it with no corn meal. Mix well then set it aside. Pick soft okra pods about 4" long slice them into 1/2" long pieces then stir them into a bowl of buttermilk let the soak about 20 minutes then drain about 20 minutes. Stir the okra pieces into the flour mix let it set and stir again about every 10 minutes for 30 minutes making sure none of the pieces are stuck together. Set it aside while the oil gets smoking hot. Set oil temperature on 400. Put deep fryer basket in the kitchen sink then dump in the okra. Shake the basket to get rid of all the extra flour. Make sure you deep fryer has about 5 times more oil than the quality of okra you have. If you cook too much okra at one time it cools the oil and does not cook crispy. You want the oil to stay smoking hot while the okra cooks. Shake the basket as it cooks in a few minutes all the okra will be golden brown and float to the surface of the oil. Lift the basket and let it drain for a couple of minutes. Dump okra on a paper towel it will soak up more oil. Serve while it is still hot and crispy.

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Re: Okra question

I have grown clemson spineless and really did not have problems getting enough. They grow so fast you have to pick them every other day. You don't want to leave old pods on the plants since that slows production. I don't need a gallon of them so I only grow about 3-5 plants at most.
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