Every 24-48 hours I head out to the garden, usually in the evening. It is often when I am standing at the clothesline as the sun begins to fade that I look over to see the okra – as tall as me now – waiting to be picked. So Joshie and I play a game of hide-and-seek while I fill the bowls and try not to get too itchy from the spines in the process.
Besides the occasional sneak-in when I’m making chili or stew, most of the okra is now being preserved. I’ve canned some, I’ve fermented some, but mostly I’m dehydrating it.
Last year we put up a bunch of dehydrated summer squash and okra. The summer squash was a bit tough, even after letting it soak in boiling water before cooking thoroughly in soups or stews. Thus the 50+ quarts of canned squash this summer.
The okra we treated in the same manner and it was tender and delicious and dare I say not noticeably slimy. So this summer, it has been my go-to preservation method. After all, I know we’ll eat plenty of soups, stews, and chili throughout the winter and no one will notice the extra handful of okra here, a jar of canned squash there, right?
The other thing I really like about dehydration is that it is dead simple once you have a dehydrator set up. Our dehydrator is this handy dandy guy from Cultures for Health that works really well in our fairly dry climate. There are also more economical options and a simple internet search for “homemade solar dehydrator” will yield you plenty of ideas if you want to DIY it.
To dehydrate the okra, I follow this simple process:
- Chop okra into 1/4 inch or thinner slices.
- Spread out into a single, evenly distributed layer on dehydrator trays/screens.
- Cover to keep off flies and other bugs and allow to dehydrate 3-7 days, depending on your climate.
- Remove to a glass storage jar and repeat.
To Re-hydrate for Cooking: Either add directly to a pot of soup that will simmer for at least 6-8 hours or cover with boiling water and allow to re-hydrate for about 20-30 minutes before draining and adding directly to whatever dish you are cooking.
We get about a quart of dehydrated okra per round in the dehydrator and have been refilling the dehydrator every time a couple of big bowls come in from the garden. And since these guys don’t seem to be slowing down and we don’t have plans for this bed for at least several more weeks, I will continue with dehydrating and fermenting until then.
What are you busy squirreling away as fall approaches?