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What to do with vacation okra

I left town for two weeks, put my neighbor in charge of the garden harvest, and came back to nearly 3 pounds of okra that's so huge (we're talking 8-12 inches long here) and woody that it's inedible by any normal cooking method. I can stew the heck out of it but it'll probably disintegrate entirely by the time it gets soft enough to chew. Can I do *anything* with it, or do I just toss it out? I'm sad, because this year's okra crop is my best ever, and it pains me to see it wasted.

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  1. ... 8-12 inches long...

    toss it. it pains, but not nearly so much pain to toss as to 'put it up and then toss it.'

    anything over 4" never makes it out of the garden around here.

    oh, I guess I should add,,,, there's a number of cute craft things made from overgrown (and dried) okra. if you're slanted in that direction.

    1. Harvest some seeds for next year, and feed the rest to your chickens. (If you don't have chickens, get some. Then feed them the okra.)

      1. Try frying them. Cut them into 3/4" pieces, dust with flower, then egg wash and finally cornmeal and fry them up. I love fried okra and while 8-12" is big, I have used 6-7" ones for frying. Make a test batch and see how they turn out.

        1. Wow, who knew they grew that huge. I cut everything off mine that was over an inch and then didn't pick anything for nearly a week. My biggest ones were about 6 inches lol. I'm afraid to see what they do when completely neglected.

          1. Unfortunately, they are not edible when they get that large; you can cut open the pods and remove the seeds to a piece of newspaper to dry out for about a week then you'll have plenty of seeds for next year.

            I tried a couple of years ago to cook them when they were huge and they stayed woody, messing up my stew which I had to throw out because once they cooked and fell apart, there were bits of woody pods that made it hard to eat. I have about 25 okra plants in my garden and a couple of weeks ago, I went a few days without picking them. They were about 4-5 inches long but were not woody so I picked them and cut them in half lengthwise and baked them on a cookie sheet in the oven until crisp like french fries. They were delicious.

            1. Okra that big, as already said, is not suitable for eating.
              Allow the Pods to dry on the Plants till they start to split. Then remove the Seeds and finish Drying. The Seeds should be almost Black in Color unlike the young Pods when they are White.
              Use the next Season since they seem to lose their viability if kept too long.

              1. OK all, thanks. I didn't think there would be a solution, but I was hoping. I will toss them out and plan my vacations better next season. Nuts!

                1. This is why God made compost heaps.

                  1. So what is the limit for edible size? I don't want to waste time and space putting up ones that aren't edible. This is my first year growing orka myself. I could tell when cutting some of mine for freezing that they were getting tough and woody so I tossed those ones.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: rasputina

                      I've never grown it but the first time I bought it (farmer's market) I assumed the larger the better. Ugh! The ones that were 4" and over were totally woody after stewing. 3" was the maximum for good; the inbetweeners were quite chewy but I could get them down.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        Okra that are 4-5 inches are still good and are not usually woody but anything past that is a bust. Okra can get woody if they stay on the stalk in the heat. If you can press the smaller pod and it is tender, you're still good to go. You know they're tough when you shake the pod and you can hear the seeds rattling, which means they're good for re-seeding.

                      2. re: rasputina

                        Really smaller is better, like Zucchini. I think they are best when about 2-3" long, nice green color(not starting to lighten)and Stem just above the Cap cuts easily when harvesting.
                        If you keep up on the harvest it will keep producing new Fruits. Do not leave old Pods on the Plant, as they will reduce production. If you want Seed Stock wait till near the end of the Season(or when you get sick of Okra(-;)

                        1. re: chefj

                          I've been growing okra for years; I have missed picking plenty of pods that was overlooked or left on the stalk too long to pick which I then left on the stalks to dry out and that has never reduced my production at all. They grow so fast that if I miss two days of picking, they get too big.

                          If I find that the okra gets too big, I leave them on the stalk to dry out then at the end of the season, when production stops and they are completely dry, I remove the seeds for the next year. In fact, they're supposed to stay on the stalk to dry out if one's intention is to harvest the seeds http://www.gardenguides.com/114657-ha...

                          1. re: Cherylptw

                            Leaving Pods on the Plant slows production of new Pods, that is not to say that it stops production or that it won't produce enough for you. Climate of course plays a part in this as well.
                            As far as your second Paragraph that is exactly what I've said.

                      3. After thinking about this for a while, I came with a better solution: gift them to your neighbor...the one who was supposed to look after your garden!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ricepad

                          Ha. If she knew what to do with okra, she'd have picked them! I went ahead and harvested some seeds yesterday (that post about leaving the pods on the plant until they got dry wasn't up yet when I did it) so I will save them for next year and see what happens. I do hope I get some more out of these plants. This has been a good year for okra, but every year I realize that I need to plant more and more of them.

                        2. I saved my okra seeds for three or four years, but stopped when I realized the plants were getting more and more stickery. Okra makes me itch, just like fiberglass, so I buy seed for the less stickery varieties instead of saving my own.

                          My rule of thumb is if the knife doesn't slip right thru the okra, it is too woody to eat. Sometimes those big long pods are fine, but if there is any resistance to cutting, they go to the chickens. (And I agree with ricepad--if you don't have chickens, get some!)

                          1. I was at a famous Charleston restaurant. The tables had dried okra pods as arrangements on them. : D

                            1 Reply