Watch My Food Grow ~ A South Florida Raised Vegetable Garden

Florida Backyard Raised Vegetable Garden

Okra: Garden Finger Food

June 30th, 2014 by Lila Steinhoff

Still Growing

It is the first of July, and the garden is nearly done for the season. The days are in the 90s,  the sun is unrelenting and the remaining plants are losing their leaves and getting spindly. It is just about time to pull up everything and prepare the boxes for the summer. .. except the okra.

okra plants

Okra Plants

Okra takes the heat very well. I do have to water it every day, but it is still blooming and producing.

okra blossom

Okra Blossom

I am getting enough okra for supper at least twice a week.



Okra is ready to eat when the pods take on a long, cone shape with noticeable ridge lines. The mature size ranges from about 3 to 5 inches. If okra is left on the on the plant too long, it develops fibers that are too tough to chew and is not good to eat.

My okra patch is roughly 4 feet square and will produce a few pods every day.

bagged okra

Bagged Okra

I cut the pods that are mature and store them in the fridge in a plastic bag with a barely damp folded paper towel in the bottom. This keeps the okra fresh until there are enough for a meal.

Okra is on my favorite food list. I would guess that most people have eaten fried, breaded okra chunks or had it in gumbo at various restaurants.  Many others have been repelled by the nightmare version… boiled and/or slimy. That is so NOT what you get if it is fried fresh from the garden. Okra, fried whole in the pod, is my favorite way to eat it.

How I Cook It

Begin with a skillet large enough to contain the okra in a single layer. I like a cast iron skillet best, but occasionally, I have used a large non-stick skillet. Both work very well.

cast iron skillet

Skillet with Oil and Salt

Heat a thin layer of oil in a skillet and sprinkle a little salt in the bottom. I use olive oil and coarse sea salt.

okra in skillet

Okra in Skillet with Oil and Salt

Lay the okra in a single layer in the skillet and cook it slowly with medium heat. The idea is to lightly brown the okra, turn it and brown the other side. It takes 4 or 5 minutes on each side to cook inside and brown the outside.

Okra Feast

Place the cooked okra on a paper towel to drain and cool enough to be hand held… yes, this finger food at my house.

fried okra

Skillet Fried Okra

The perfect way to eat the okra is to put the pointy end in your mouth and bite it off at the stem. Toss the stem and repeat. So good!


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3 responses so far ↓

  • Hmmmm….good eating! I do have a weakness for Church’s fried Okra too…There are no Church’s Fried Chicken down here but there is plenty of them in the Midwest. I do grill them at times outside and that works pretty well too, but the sea salt and olive oil sounds pretty good. I will try this out! Thanks for the garden tip and the cooking tip too!

  • This sounds really good. I’ll have to get some at the farmer’s market and try it soon. Thanks.

  • I am growing okra in my garden for the first time. Thank you for the garden advice and I can’t wait to try cooking it with my cast iron skillet.