Okra is a southern staple in the garden. It loves the heat and will continue to produce till it starts getting cooler. It's one of those plants that gives and gives (and gives). A lot of folks farther to the north can't grow it well because they just don't have enough time and heat. Did you know that you have to pick it daily or it gets tough on the vine. Or that it doesn't keep long once it's picked. Which means if you are canning it you'll have to do smaller batches unless you've got a ton of plants. I've got a better option.
I met a guy (I won't mention his name) from Washington state who had never grown okra before. Since he knew everything there was about gardening (cough) he decided to give it a try down here. So he proceeded to plant a 250 foot row double spaced in okra. Now if you've ever grown this stuff before you know just how prolific and how fast it grows. That's why most folks only grow 15-20 plants. I tried to tell him that with 200 feet of okra that he would need someone out there all day every day doing nothing but picking okra. Shoot, by the time you picked a 250' double row, it you'd have to start back down it again. We left before I got to watch him freak out come about the middle of August! I still laugh when I picture him out there picking okra till the sun goes down. I bet that was one lesson learned! LOL!!!
So what can you do with all that bounty? I've found the best way (I think) to preserve okra so you can have it in the dead of winter and still get that awesome fresh okra taste. Dry it!
This is one of those veggies that does amazingly well when dried and re-hydrated. (right down to the "slime") Oh, and did I mention it's easy to do???
Slice okra into even size pieces for uniform drying. Lay it out on your dryer trays so the pieces aren't overlapping. It's ok if they touch, you just don't want them on top of each other. Set the dryer to your veggie setting (135-145 degrees) and let it go till it's crisp and totally dried. Put it in an air tight container to store it. That's it. Pretty simple yes?
Now if you want to there are some things you can do before you dry your okra. You can season it with different spices before drying. When it's dried it also makes great snack food. Things like seasoned salt, Cajun seasoning, Greek seasoning.... let your imagination go with it.
When its re-hydrated you can use it just like you would fresh okra. You can put it in soups or stews or even better.... Gumbo! Or you can do my favorite thing with it. Fry it in a cornmeal mix and pig out! Man, I love me some fried okra.
I found a tip somewhere that says to coat the okra you are going to fry with a beaten egg and let it sit in the fridge for at least 15-20 minutes.
Then coat it in your cornmeal/flour mixture and fry it. It make all the difference in the world. I've got to admit it works wonderfully.
The coating stays on and it almost reminds me of the frozen battered stuff you get from the frozen food section at the grocery store only it tastes better! I've thought about trying to flash freeze it on cookie sheets once it's battered but haven't actually tried it yet. I'm pretty sure it would work though. I'm going to have to try it and see for myself. It would be a cool time saver and as close to fast food as I've been in ages! LOL
Now that's some good eating!