Last year, a merry band of volunteer gardeners grew a whopping 900 pounds of food in the Ministry Garden (aka #givinggarden) behind Burks United Methodist Church, including Reverend Collins’ favorite — okra, harvested from formidable stalks towering 9-foot high. Okra can be a bit intimidating in the kitchen, and this year since they couldn’t host their community cooking classes. So, the garden ministry is creating videos and recipes to help volunteers and folks who receive the produce learn how to make the most of the harvest.
Here’s a recent post from Reverend Collins.
OKRA is a primarily Southern crop that grows well in hot weather and tolerates dry spells. It will typically produce until fall. Okra can be used in a variety of ways. To prepare the okra, rinse it with cold running water and put out on a towel or rack. Our varieties of okra are chosen to remain tender at larger sizes, but if you cut into a part of a pod of okra and it is spiny and hard, it is over ripe and should be composted or discarded.
Slice the okra with a sharp knife into thin circles. Throw the tops and tips to farm animals, compost or trash. If cut too thickly, it won’t fry well. Try one of the following methods.
- Coat the okra in self-rising corn meal. Put peanut or corn oil into a skillet, not more than ½ inch and heat. Sift the okra circles out with your fingers and put them into the oil to fry. Try to put as little extra meal into the skillet as possible, as it will burn over time. Turn with a slotted spoon and cook till brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a colander sitting on a plate to drain. Salt (to taste) each batch as it is removed. Continue cooking in batches until all okra is cooked. Serve hot.
- Beat an egg or two with a fork in a bowl. Place the okra in the beaten egg. Stir until coated. Take egg battered okra and drop into a bowl with a cup of flour in it. Stir around with fork or fingers until coated. Drop carefully by batches into 1 inch of hot oil, sifting the okra through your fingers, trying to get as little loose flour as possible into the oil. Fry, turning until brown all over, remove to drain in a colander sitting on a plate. Salt each batch to taste as you remove it to the colander. Continue cooking in batches until all okra is cooked.
Okra is good cooked into a vegetable soup. Wash, cut in circles, and put it in when there is about 40 minutes left to simmer.
Okra can also be simmered in a small amount of water and eaten cooked tender with butter.
Got okra of your own to harvest? Here’s a quick tutorial from Reverend Collins on how to know when it’s ready.