In Season: Okra

I swear, it’s not what you think it is. When most people think of okra, one of two images comes to mind: a bucket of overly greasy, lukewarm flavorless deep-fried “chips” or a hard-to-swallow slimy skillet of succotash. But please, let’s try to move past these memories.

***All About Okra***

In Season: Okra

When to Buy: Okra is a late summer vegetable, grown mostly in southern, hotter climates. It is available mid-June through late August, even into September, depending on where you live.

What to Buy: Okra tends to get tougher as it gets bigger, so choose bright green pods that are 3-4 inches long. They should be unblemished (within reason), and should neither be slimy nor too dry.

Prep & Storage: Store in a plastic bag in the fridge for 2-3 days. Before using, wash well in cold water and slice off the hard top stem.

How to Cook: While there are many ways to cook okra, one thing is key: to prevent okra from becoming slimy, always add an acidic ingredient (lemon, vinegar) to the cooking process, either before as a marinade, or during as a splash of extra flavor. Frying okra is of course the American classic, but okra can also be sautéed (as in, succotash), made into soup (like Gumbo), or even oven roasted (like oven roasted zucchini). Okra can also be pickled or salted and dried for preservation.

Recipe Box: Check out these No-Slime okra recipes!

Whole-Roasted Okra
The foolproof method: roasting. Minimal effort, maximum flavor.

Vegan Gumbo
Just add a splash of lemon juice when you add the okra, and this recipe will fill you up for a whole week! While a complete meal as-is, you could easily add chicken, sausage, or shrimp.

Fried Okra
Because sometimes we all need a little grease.

Pickled Okra
You love it so much, you want to save it for later.

Okra Stew
If you are really sure you don’t like okra, try this. You won’t notice it too much when mixed in with bacon, pork chops, and a slew of other vegetables.

Alexis ZK is an undergraduate at New York University studying French and Food Studies. After spending a summer working on farms all over the US, she spent a year studying, eating, and working in France. Now, she has returned to the farms, this time focusing on wine and value-added products. Follow her adventures here.

Originally posted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

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