Thursday, July 25, 2013

Is Okra a Vegetable for Dixie, Ya Shure?

Many of our customer seem very surprise when we start bringing Okra to market each year. Especially those that are from the south and new to town. "I thought Okra was a southern vegetable!" is the common refrain.

Well take it from an old Scandinavian. It just tain't so!

It takes a little doing but you can grow Okra in Minnesota. We typically get about a 60 day harvest window before the frost stops all the Okra festivities. Okra is very sensitive to cold; similar to basil in that respect.

Lisa and I were first exposed to Okra 25 years ago when we were on our honeymoon in New Orleans. We had a stew or soup called Gumbo that had lots of Okra in it. We had other strange foods while we were there like oysters on the half shell and blackened red fish (sounds colorful). I bought a New Orleans cook book and tried to grow some of the main ingredients.

I had promised to take Lisa some place where they had a beach for our honeymoon. I figured Lake Pontchcartrain had a beach and never checked any further. Well wouldn't you know it they only had a levee and not a beach. We looked all over but no beach.  We had fun anyway, but she reminds me that I still owe her a beach. You'd think that a French Quarter would be good enough. But I digress...

It is our anniversary today, so I guess I'm doing a little reminiscing.

I ran across a YouTube video a while back where an old gentleman with a thick southern accent was showing how he picked Okra. It was really comical. He had an electric golf cart that he drove along the Okra rows and picked Okra from the seat of his golf cart. He picked about 15 pounds that way and then showed his viewers how he froze the fresh Okra for use during the winter. The interesting thing was the Okra plants he was picking was 6-7 feet tall. It looked like a jungle. He'd reach in and snap off the pods. Very educational!

Because of our short growing season Our Okra never gets over 3-4 feet tall. See my post earlier this season on how we grow Okra.

I'll put a recipe for gumbo in a future post. It has lots of good vegetables in it that are typically available as soon as the Okra is.

Oh, by the way we are starting to harvest Okra this week. It might take a couple of weeks before all the plants are bearing and we have a large quantity.

Ya'll come get some. Ya shure!

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