Like most of you I used to blanch and freeze my excess okra from the garden season... But not anymore! Even just the blanching process is enough to cause it to get slimy and even break down, a lot faster, when you're trying to cook it later. Instead, I like to dehydrate my okra. Since there is very little cooking involved for storage, you get a more consistent product in the end.
But you have to grow the okra first, so that's where I'll start. One trick that I've learned about growing okra, is to soak the seeds in water overnight (or up to 24 hours) before you plant them. This helps them to germinate a lot better. Also, okra is one of those plants that seem to grow a long time before they produce anything. But once they start, hold onto your hats, because they are going to run you crazy! You'll need to harvest daily or they'll get too hard to eat. Okra is also one of those plants that produces more, the more you harvest.
Harvesting can be tricky, though. You'll need a good pair of pruners and an even better set of eyes! Okra is really, REALLY good at hide and seek! The little pods are very easy to miss, and blend right into the plant itself. I like to plant the Cowhorn Okra variety. They are a little more forgiving, and can grow a bit bigger, before they get hard on you. Still, there have been times that I'll come out and there's a foot long okra pod staring me in the face! Now how did I miss that one?!? It's all good though, those can be used for seed. ;o)
Once you've got your okra you can either use it fresh, pickle it, freeze it, or dehydrate it. Like I said, for the okra that I don't use right away (or pickle) I prefer to skip the freezing, and dehydrate the rest. The dehydration process is fairly simple. Just rinse off your okra and allow it to dry. Then, cut your okra into approximately 1/2 inch slices, and arrange them on the dehydration trays. Or if you prefer, you can also dehydrate the okra as whole pods. Then, let your machine run until the moisture is removed. Every machine is different, but mine usually takes about 16 hours. Then, simply store the okra in an airtight container until you're ready to use it. (I prefer to use quart sized mason jars.)
When you're ready, simply toss the desired amount directly into your soups or stews. There's no need to rehydrate them first. I just love how easy it is, and the texture is so much better this way!
~ You may have noticed that I don't have any pictures of my dehydrated okra... Well, I've already used my supply from last year, but did not want to wait to give y'all the information about planting and such. I will update this post with more pictures as soon as I can.
Related posts that might interest you:
Pink-Eyed Peas (Field Peas) with Snaps - From Garden to Table