So that’s what you do with Okra…

I have a bed in my garden set aside for all that is interesting and unusual.  It is my fun bed where I can try things out.  Although it does seem to have given over a bit of space to tomatoes and peppers that couldn’t fit in their garden and I just couldn’t be without them.

Okra is a funny looking plant
Okra is a funny looking plant

In my odds and sods garden this year – aside from the tomatoes and peppers I have an eggplant with it’s killer spikes.  You don’t see those in the store.  Maybe they shave them off.  Then there is the stevia, but that is on the hush hush.  I have to plant it in secret locations each year or the kids will find it and eat all the leaves.  I have had popcorn in there and now the stalks need to come out as the ears are drying nicely in the greenhouse.  And with any luck growing big under the earth is peanuts, which will stay there until the frost.  Hopefully this will be ages away so my peanuts get the longest growing season to get to a descent size.

okra harvest
Not a bad haul of okra, considering conditions aren’t perfectly ideal.

But also in there is a row of okra.  I have grown it determinedly for several years in a row, with limited success.  I say limited as I’ve seen videos of okra growing in climates more suited and it is a huge plant.  Mine are always a bit spindly.  Having said that, being in the shadow of the tomatoes probably isn’t helping.  Maybe next season I’ll move them.

Not being a commonly eaten vegetable around here I have turned to the internet for inspiration.  The first year I made a gumbo.  It tasted ok, but having never had a proper gumbo before I am still left wondering if it was any good.  Then last year I made an Indian curry and while that was also tasty, a homemade curry never really compares to a proper one.  Either that or it is my cooking skills that are left wanting.

Okra in a jar
Okra in a jar – testing it out for size

Then this year while I was in America I found my inspiration.  At one of the after parties there was an amazing array of finger food on offer.  Oh it was such a feast, and in the corner was a platter holding something I had never even thought of before – Pickled Okra.  Oh my goodness they were so good – I could have eaten the lot.  But I held back for manners sake!

But my mind instantly jumped back home to my odds and sods bed and I just knew what I was going to do with my curious crop of green okra.   I had been popping them in the freezer as they came to the right size and a quick google search reassured me that once defrosted properly they could be pickled.  Something to do with their internal structure.  But I had both, fresh and frozen so we shall see.

Chilli and garlic
Not too much chilli and garlic. I don’t want it to be too spicy.

Then I went back to my old friend the internet and looked for recipes that seem to most reflect what I had eaten at the party and decided the key ingredients were chillies, garlic, dill seeds, white vinegar, sugar and salt.

Depending on the amount you are making – and I only have a meagre harvest, you need a ratio of 1 cup of white vinegar, 1/8 of a cup of sugar and 1/16 of a cup of salt.    Then you can put in as much finely diced chilli and garlic and dill seed as you want.  I went a bit shy, as I didn’t want to overwhelm it with the heat.  Boil it all together for 5 minutes.

Chilli, garlic and dill seed boiling away in the vinegar
Chilli, garlic and dill seed boiling away in the vinegar

Then pack the okra into sterile jars.  Some of my  okra may be a bit big, but the okra on offer in America was a generous size so maybe they will be ok. Seal with a sterile lid.  Make sure you get a good seal.  You will know this if the lid ‘pops’ as the jars cool down.

Once again I offer caution with this process as preserving can be a bit of a mine field.  However these are high acid with the vinegar so the risk is lessened.  But if you are unsure then please consult experts in these matters.

Pickled Okra
Pickled Okra.  I hope they taste as good as the ones I had in America.

I shall leave mine for about a month and then we shall gobble them up and memories of my time in America shall come flooding back.  I can hardly wait.

Come again soon – we are expecting Cyclone Pam of category 5 status on Monday so hopefully the garden survives unharmed.

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

23 thoughts on “So that’s what you do with Okra…

  1. Interesting. I don’t think I’ve never tasted okra – not that I am aware of anyway! What’s inside them Sarah, and do they have seeds?

    1. Hi Barb. They do have seeds in them and can be a bit gelatinous depending on how you cook them. They have a distinctive taste, that it would seem some love and others hate. I am all for trying everything once and the fun things twice – within reason. If you come across them give them a go – at least so you can say you have tried them.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  2. If you can make okra edible, go for it! I’ve only had it one way that I can stomach it, and that’s fried. I grew up with it as a staple, and never developed a taste for it.

    1. Found myself asking this question on the weekend just past. I’ll have to give it a go!
      I feel for you on the cyclone front having narrowly been missed by Cyclones Yasi and Larry in far North Queensland Australia. There was a long clean up process even though we didn’t get the direct hit. Everyone just starts again:)
      Stay safe Sarah.

      1. Hi Brooke. I hope enjoy your pickled okra. We were blessed with our brush with the cyclone. It just gave us a lot of much needed rain. phew. Thanks for your concern. Cheers Sarah : o )

  3. I really wanted to grow Okras here (Vienna, Austria) but my first (and as yet, only) attempt failed miserably. The seedlings never grew beyond a foot tall. I give myself fault for putting them on the ‘cool and shaded’ side of the highbed.
    I may try again this year but given the uncertain temperatures here…I don’t hold much faith in succeeding. This is a huge disappointment for me as I grew up with the pods and we have so many recipes which I’d happily recreate for a taste of home. Oh well!
    Hope your pickled Okras are tasty!

    1. I’ve grown mine inside – I think that helped but there wasn’t enough space, so I’m going to try in the greenhouse this year.

    2. Hi there. I think you may have similar struggles to me with growing okra. Some of my plants have not grown very tall, but I have a meagre harvest from them. The key seems to be giving them an early start indoors, but don’t plant them out until it is really warm as this seems to set them back. Don’t give up – keep trying. Cheers Sarah : o )

  4. Your okras are just beautiful! They are our traditional food here in India. We add onions and chili powder to make it a gravy :). Like your pickle and Love your blog 🙂 Have just followed you. Your pictures are great!

    1. Hi Julie. They aren’t that difficult to grow, provided you give them a good head start and then keep them warm indoors until it is really warm outside or they can sulk a little. They don’t take up too much space either which is great. You should try them this spring. Cheers Sarah : o )

    1. Hi Elaine. I love to try strange and wonderful things in the garden. Sometimes they prove to be a little too strange! The peanuts are doing well, they look better than previous years so hopefully this year I’ll be digging up big ones… I’ll certainly be blogging about it! Cheers Sarah : o )

  5. I’m glad you found a way to eat them. Okra grows well for me in Florida’s summer, and I have found that the larger ones(which can get a bit tough) are really good sauteed with a bit of olive oil and garlic. I hope your pickled okra are delicious!

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