Okra for connoisseurs of fine eating


#1

I decided to start a thread on okra growing and kick it off with part of my post in the watermelon 2020 thread.

Here is a list with many that I have grown:
African
African X Cowhorn
Alabama Red
Alice Elliot
Beck’s Big Buck
Burgundy
Burmese
Clemson Spineless
Cowhorn
Dwarf Lee
Emerald
Evertender
Gold Coast
Granny Franklin
Heavy Hitter
Jing Orange
Lightning
Longhorn
Louisiana Green Velvet
Mammoth
Marsha’s
Milsap White
Pentagreen
Perkins Long Pod
Red River
Stewart’s Zeebest
Texas Longhorn
White Velvet

Granny Franklin is my ex-wife’s family heirloom okra. It is the most multipurpose okra that I have grown. It can be fried, stewed, steamed, boiled, baked, stuffed, and pickled and tastes good to excellent in all of them. Very few okra varieties make really good pickled okra. When I first sent Granny Franklin to Sandhill several years ago, Glenn grew it and gave a bucket to friends from the deep south. Their comment was that it was okra the way okra was supposed to taste.

I have plans to grow Jing Orange, Heavy Hitter, Red River, and Granny Franklin. I need fresh seed of each.

What are your plans for Okra in 2021?


#2

@Fusion_power Great post, that is an impressive list you have. I grow two 40 foot rows of Clemson spineless okra every year, but I have been living in the dark because I had no idea there was all these varieties out there until reading your post in the watermelons 2020. I really like Clemson spineless and it grows like a weed so I have never tried anything else, but apparently I’m missing out. We love it grilled, fried, and pickled, but I would love to hear some of your favorite recipes. I would also like to hear what variety you would pair up with Clemson spineless to grow side by side, basically something that would be chest/shoulder height like Clemson.


#3

After seeing the long list of varieties you have grown Granny Franklin must be a special okra. I have only grown four types. Clemson was good and productive. I ventured out and planted cowhorn for a few years. I have mixed feeling about it but I remember the extremely large pods and the plants were so big I used a saw to cut them down. Nice listing of okra.


#4

I’ve only grown Clemson and Burgundy. I like both, but I need to figure out some new strategies to grow them. Now that I’m back in New England, I’m at a handicap for okra. I love grilling okra whole with nothing more than salt and olive oil, or tossing whole pods in a hot wok and seasoning with soy sauce.


#5

I’d like to hear from growers in the northeast on this. Here the varieties I try just don’t have great vigor and the leaves start dying shortly after coming into productivity as the plants and productivity rapidly fades.

I love Okra, especially cooked with tomatoes and hot peppers and outside of Indian markets, it’s very hard to get of high quality here.

It may sound insane to you southern growers, but I’m perfectly happy to start plants in a greenhouse.


#6

I think the key is large newspaper or peat pots.I was able to start mine ahead okay, but they languished when the transplant date kept getting pushed back by cool late spring temps and they never really recovered. I used pots that were about 2 6-pack cells worth of soil volume. When I was in Kansas, I just planted the seeds out in May or June and got out of the way.


#7

My problem isn’t lack of vigor when they are young, it is their losing vigor once they start bearing. It’s like they get anthracnose or some other disease. If I grow them in pots they seem to remain much healthier for longer.

I’ve seen them do better in nearby in areas with full morning and afternoon sun, so it may have to do with soil temps or just overall sun exposure.


#8

I know they love hot temps, like what we only really get for a few weeks a year here. I could see that contributing to disease.


#9

I haven’t had much success with okra in the Boston area. I’ve tried it for several years and have grown five or so different types. Alabama Red has done the best for me. But some years it grows quickly and produces lots of fruit, while other years it hardly grows at all. The inconsistency makes it hard to justify the space it takes up.


#10

I noticed that Territorial Seeds has 2 short-season varieties of okra. “Candle Fire” is described as maturing in 30 days and “Jambalaya” in 50 days.


#11

I’ve grown short season varieties, but short season isn’t the problem it is inadequate production relative to space and effort. I’ve stopped growing it the last couple of years for that reason after experimenting with a couple of short season varieties.


#12

It’s fun to grow. But when I can get a 2# bag cut up and frozen at Save-A-Lot grocery for $1.29, I can’t buy a pack of seeds for that.


#13

I’ve grown only five cultivars, but the best performing in my area—in terms of production and pod quality—has been Hill Country Red.


#14

Others are more productive and others have snazzy traits like red color, but you can prepare Granny Franklin any way okra can be consumed and it will taste very good. I’m like most who read here in preferring flavor over other traits. It has about the same overall performance as Clemson Spineless but can be pickled where C.S. is not IMO very good pickled.

The only okra I have grown that is able to produce in relatively short season climates is Burmese.

Alan, the problem you are seeing with Okra is lack of heat. Growing in containers gets the roots up to high enough temperature to produce fruit. Okra needs 90 degrees just to get started growing. It hits top gear at 100 degrees and really goes to town at 110 degrees so long as it has enough water.

For background, Perkins Long Pod is the parent of Clemson Spineless and Clemson Spineless is the parent of Heavy Hitter. Clemson Spineless and Emerald are among the parents of Dwarf Lee.

The most primitive okra I grow is African which can “go native” if left alone in southern states. The worst producer I’ve grown is Alice Eliot which has problems with germination and dies before frost limiting production.


#15

The last time I grew okra , 2yrs ago. ( Clemson spineless ?)
I topped , pinched the top bud out , when they were like 2 ft. Tall
Out of half a row , let the other half just grow with one shoot.
The pinched plants branched , with 4-5 branches growing up ,instead of one on the unpinched ones.
The pinched ones had more , but smaller pods. easy to pick because they were shorter .
I think the pinched plants were more productive .
Anyone else pinch their okra .?


#16

Get some Heavy Hitter seed and see if it meets your needs. It is a multi-branching version of Clemson Spineless. You won’t have to pinch the tops to get it to branch. Also, it can produce up to 300 pods per plant which is pretty good production for okra.

Here is a recipe for pickled okra that will be fried to serve.

Needs:
a 5 gallon bucket of okra ready to cut up
white vinegar
canning salt

Chop up a dishpan of okra. This will be 2 to 3 gallons total. Don’t cut too small, 1/2 inch slices are just about right.

Put 8 to 10 clean quart jars in a large pan with enough hot water to cover them and bring the water to a boil. This will sterilize the jars. You want to take them straight out of the boiling water and fill them with okra. When ready to fill the jars, drop the canning flats into the water to soften the seal.

Put a pan on the stove with a gallon of water and when it boils, add 9 tablespoons of white vinegar and 3 tablespoons of canning salt. Put the okra into the pan of water and get it hot enough to thoroughly blanch the okra until it turns pale green. It must be at or near boiling for this to work. Pull a jar out of the boiling water and fill it with the okra and pack full. Put on a lid and seal the jar. Place on a counter where it can cool.

When you want some fried okra in the middle of the winter, pull out a jar and wash it thoroughly and fry with corn meal. Washing takes off much of the vinegar taste.


#17

I agree with Burmese okra as a good variety in the northeast. I have grown several types and it is the best grower that I have had. What I really like about it is that you can ignore it for a few days, end up with large pods that are still tender and edible. I start okra with my tomatoes indoors in March.


#18

That was my assumption, but discussing it with you makes me realize that I might get better results if I use plastic to drive up the heat of the soil.


#19

I’m also partial to slicing and dehydrating okra. 5 lbs of fresh okra dries down well and fits in a couple of quart bags. Perfect for winter soups and stews! It’s a lot of chopping, but it goes quickly if you have a sharp knife. Freeze dried whole pods are a delicious snack, but a freeze dryer isn’t in my budget.

I’ll have to try Burmese out, and maybe okra will do better once I have some raised beds in. Also, moving some of my gardening up here to the house vs at the community garden, which is a bit cooler, should help.


#20

Last fall I pickled using Sean Brock’s recipe from his cookbook “Heritage”. Way too much turmeric for me. I love the pickled okra you find in the “Amish” stores. I decided it was way too time consuming and will just stick to the ready made jars when I need a winter time hit of okra pickles.