Saturday, August 14, 2010

OKRA: History and Southern Fried

Okra has the most beautiful bloom in our garden!
 It is related to cotton, hollyhock and hibiscus.  It loves drought,  sun and heat so, of course, it does great here in Oklahoma.  It is even part of Oklahoma's official state meal!!

Okra originated in Africa and was brought to America by African slaves. Thomas Jefferson listed it  being grown at his home in Virginia in 1781. 

Okra has vitamin C and A, B complex, iron and calcium. The seeds can be toasted and ground and used as a coffee substitute and an edible oil can be made from ripen seeds.
  The downside to okra is that the leaves and pods are covered with tiny spines that make you itch while picking it. The best thing to do is wear long sleeves and gloves. My theory growing up is that I wouldn't eat okra so therefore I should have to pick it. My parents did not agree with my theory and I still had to pick it. Now I pick it every 2-3 days for several months during the summer. Pods should be picked when they are 3-5 inches long. If it gets to big it becomes tough and stringy.
There are so many ways to prepare okra, once you start listing the ways you sound like you should be in the movie Forrest Gump. Pickled, boiled, cut up and put in soups or gumbo, but my favorite is fried.
I don't have an exact recipe for frying okra. It depends how many people  and how hungry we are to how much I prepare.  It is always a guess and one that usually turns out okay. Cut your okra in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices, salt and pepper.  Add chopped onion.  Add a beaten egg, a little milk and mix.
 I add 2 to 1 of flour and cornmeal, more flour than cornmeal.
A cast iron skillet is the best way to fry okra. Pour a generous about of oil in your skillet and let it get hot but, not smoking. Slowly add your okra, salt and pepper again. Turning it  when it becomes brown and crisp, try not to flip it too often.

Let it drain on paper towels. It is the perfect side dish for so many meals.
I will be posting this to these blog parties:
Made by You Monday
Recipe Sharing Monday
Creative Blogger's Party & Hop
Foodie Friday
Frugal Friday
Full Plate Thursday


  1. I am a HUGE okra fan, and I often pan fry it as well (but with less oil). I've also breaded it and baked it - that works okay too!

  2. Yummmm! I wouldn't mind having some fried okra right now. The mama made some pickled okra last week. The only way the husband will eat it. No slimyness to it. but I'm sured he give fried okra a try. thanks for the recipe.
    Su-sieee! Mac
    This and That. Here and There. Now, Sometimes Then.

  3. Oh, this looks so yummy! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I have eaten okra all my life but never knew all the things you shared today. I really enjoy it fried.

  5. I had no idea okra was so beautiful. My southerner husband introduced me to fried okra and pickled okra. I love them both and am still trying to perfect my fried okra for him.

  6. Hey!! I am from Oklahoma too and I did fried okra on here last week. That is funny!!! I fry mine a little differently and it is so delicious! We could eat it at every single meal. Nice to see another Okie!! Lori L

  7. YUM! I love fried okra. I just toss it with cornmeal and a little flour with salt and pepper and then fry it up in a cast iron skillet. I do it that way because that is how my mother and grandmother did it. So funny how those sorts of things are handed down.

    Christi @ A Southern Life

  8. I love ORKA! Fried, pickled, in gumbo, ... My okra has been so productive this year that I have to cut it every day. I am going to try your recipe. I also like to use Zatarain's or Louisiana Fish Fry instead of the cornmeal/flour. To mix things up, I like to use the Fish Fry that has a touch of lemon.

    First time to your blog... looking forward to reading more.

  9. Hello! I enjoyed reading all you reported about okra. Raised in Va. I grew up eating okra. We do plant it in our garden here in the midwest some summers. I even like it steamed, and yes ~~ somewhat slimy! :)

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