Welcome back to the Farm Stand, your weekly guide to seasonal Southern produce.
Today's post is brought to you by okra, our region's beloved, witch-fingered vegetable that has managed to scare off such Yankees as horror novelist Stephen King (according to his friend writer Roy Blount Jr.).
Sure it's seedy, some say slimy, even snotty, but that hasn't stopped us Southerners from enjoying it fried, in gumbos, stewed with tomatoes, put up in blue jars, and grilled for a good 200+ years. Besides, when have a few ill-informed comments ever stopped us from enjoying ourselves?
But if you're just starting out on the road to embracing okra, there are ways to make that journey easier. Just follow our okra appreciation guide below.
- When it comes to picking perfect pods, large okra are typically tough and have a much more slimy texture than tinier pods, so err on the smaller side. Avoid okra with big brown streaks, but some spots here and there are fine.
- According to our friend Virginia Willis who wrote a whole cookbook about okra, it's import to thoroughly wash and dry okra before cooking to further decrease the slime quotient.
- Unlike Steel Magnolias or The Band's Music From Big Pink, okra is not an evergreen classic to be enjoyed whenever. Plan to use your pods within 2-3 days of purchase. Until then, place in a plastic or paper bag in the fridge.
- While cooking okra in hot oil or with an acidic ingredient will cut down on the slime, don't obsess when it comes to making gumbo, which relies on okra for a thicker consistency.
What to Make
Fret not, pod-fearing. If there is one hand you should hold as you continue down the road to true okra acceptance, it's ours. Try some of our okra recipes and let us know your favorite way to cook with it.
- Okra Panzanella
- Pickled Okra
- Skillet Roasted Okra and Shrimp
- Okra and Tomatoes
- Spicy Okra Fries
- Charred Okra