Blackberry Farm

Friends of the Farm

Okra

When it comes to the subject of Okra, there isn’t much middle ground. Most people either love it or hate it. Okra generally gets a bad rap from the fact that it is shiny when boiled or overcooked.

Okra was brought to the Americas from Africa during the early days of our history and quickly became a favorite in the Southern states. In Louisiana, okra is commonly used in the Cajun and Creole recipes, while in other regions of the South, the most common recipe is fried okra, which is sliced, rolled in cornmeal, and then fried.

One of my favorites is stewed okra with onions, garlic, hot red pepper, thyme, and diced tomatoes. The onions and garlic are lightly browned in virgin olive oil and then the other ingredients are added. I also add salt and pepper to taste. This recipe is very easy and very tasty!

There are several of the old varieties that we grow at Blackberry Farm. One of the chef’s favorite varieties is perkins mammoth long green, which is a variety that was developed from an early cowhorn okra strain. The pods of this variety remain tender up to a later stage of development. We also have an old variety from South Carolina named choppee, which produces smooth pods and was named after the Choppee Indians in the region near Georgetown.

Before the days of canning, okra was sliced, dried and then stored for winter use. During the summer months when some of the okra pods were past the stage for table use, the immature seeds would be used in soup or other recipes. An old African method for preserving dried okra was to pound dried green okra pods into powder which was later added to various recipes.

John Coykendall, Master Gardener