Foot-Long Okra

What to Do With Giant Okra Pods

Foot-Long Okra
Foot-Long Okra. Photo © Juliet Glass, used with permission

A friend told me she had some really big okra pods and wondered how best (and if!) to cook them. She sent the photo to the left, to give me a sense of the size she was talking about. As the okra season goes on, the okra pods get bigger. And, much like zucchini and other vegetables that get big, okra can get a bit woody and its tempting, delicate flavor can take on a bitter edge as they take on giant-like proportions.

And yet... there are solutions to these problems. Or, rather, it is simply important to know, as always, what kind of vegetable you're cooking to get the most from it. Giant pods like the one pictured are best used one of two ways:

  1. Slowly cooked into a gumbo or stew to soften their sometimes woody pod structure (this Spicy Stewed Okra is a personal favorite)
  2. Slit down the side and stuffed with a bit of cheese or spicy meat mixture (this Kheema is a good bet) and baked (350°F to 375°F is a good bet), covered, until everything is wonderfully tender then uncovered and allowed to brown nicely

Don't know much about these pretty grassy pods? Learn more with All About Okra.

What's my favorite way to cook okra if size isn't an issue (and, like most people, I do prefer my okra on the smaller side, like those pictured tumbling out of a basket at the Charleston, South Carolina farmers market to the right)?

It's a real toss-up between fried okra and spicy sautéed okra. For super-easy eating, though, I turn to grilled okra.