Mastering gardening is not only limited to tending your plants as they grow. A good gardener must also know how to tend to the produce as well.
There are many ways to store okra. Three of them are tackled in this article: drying, salting and canning. These methods are recommended for okra because of the vegetable’s slimy interior which makes for efficient drying and salting. While it is not guaranteed that the okra will stay in its natural slimy state after the storage process, these methods will give way to a wide variety of delicious recipes. Don’t forget to try all these methods and get creative with the results!
IMPORTANCE OF STORING OKRA
Either for long-term storage or if you want the produce to stay its best in anticipation of a gardening competition, storing your okra (also known as Lady’s Fingers) mainly tackles the preservation of its freshness and securing its longevity.
Moreover, the freshness of produce is a prominent determinant of how healthy the vegetable is and how well it was tended as a plant. So in a way, we can say that the produce reflects the gardener’s competence.
3 BASIC STEPS – HOW TO STORE OKRA
This method involves dehydrating the liquid inside the okra which gives it a wrinkled and crisped appearance (it will look like your grandma’s fingers). Take note that this method of storing focuses mainly on the preservation of the vegetable, trading freshness for longevity.
All you need is a food dehydrator. And since okra is known for its tenderness and slimy extract, it dehydrates pretty well.
- Slice the okra into small pieces. There is no rule on how to do this – as long as they fit into the dehydrator, slice it in any way you’d like.
- Place the slices neatly into the dehydrator. Make sure to fit as many as you can for efficiency but don’t fill up the device too much.
- Set the temperature between 50–54 degrees Celsius. The heating process may take as long as 24 hours, plus a few more hours to ensure the crispness of the dried okra.
- Take the okra out of the dehydrator, place them in a bag and then allow them to chill in a refrigerator for a few days. After that, collect the finished product and store them in a container (preferably Tupperware). Take them out when you’re ready to use them.
Salting is a simple, non-expensive way of preserving your vegetables at home. It works very well with stick-like produce such as okra, celery and pickles; but is also known to work with cabbage and other leafy vegetables. Salting is a way of preservation that fights away from the microorganisms responsible for the decomposing and deteriorating the produce.
How can you store okra using salt? Well, you need a fermentation vessel, a bowl and canning salt. Note: do not to use everyday table salt, as this may contain additives. Either pickling or Kosher and canning salt are recommended for this procedure.
- Slice the okra into small pieces. The slices must fit in the fermentation vessel.
- Mix the pieces in a bowl of salt. Make sure to mix them well.
- Scrape off the slices and pour the mixture into the fermentation vessel.
- Pound the okra slices until they begin to leak out juice. After that, fill the fermentation vessel with water up to the neck. Make sure that the sliced vegetables are all fully submerged in the mixture of salt, water and okra oil.
- Seal the vessel and place it in an area with room temperature – ideally a table or a kitchen island (away from the stove or any heating device).
- After adequate time has passed, bubbles will begin to occur inside the vessel. This will cause the liquid to leak out. You may wipe the exterior of the vessel to prevent odor.
- When the bubbling has ceased, this means that the fermentation has been completed. Take the okra out of the vessel and transfer it into a glass jar. For long-term storage, keep them chilled in a refrigerator.
As the method states, canning is placing your vegetable in a tightly sealed container for long-term storage. The point of canning is to kill off any bacteria responsible for spoilage, then sealing the vegetable so harmful microorganisms can no longer enter.
To can okra, you need a mason jar and a pressure canner. A pressure canner looks like a huge kettle with pressure readers and dials. If you do not have a pressure canner available, a simple large kettle will do (large enough to submerge the mason jars).
- The first step in storing okra is to wash the vegetables. You may choose to cut the okra into 1-inch pieces. Place the pieces in a saucepan and boil for 2 minutes, then drain.
- Stuff the boiled okra into the mason jar, along with water and a teaspoon of salt for every quart of the jar’s space. The mason jar has to be ¾ filled. Seal the lid tightly.
- Submerge the filled mason jars in the pressure canner and close the lid. Start your pressure canner and allow to process for 25 minutes.
- The temperature in which the pressure canner is working kills the germs trapped inside the mason jars. After 25 minutes, take out the mason jars and allow to cool. The jar will “lock” itself as it is cooling.
Using A Boiling-Water Canner
A boiling-water canner is just a large kettle without the pressuring qualities of a pressure canner. Because of this, the required amount of temperature for killing germs inside the mason jar is not reached, making it partly ineffective. However, a large kettle is commonly used when canning acidic fruits such as oranges, grapes, and lemons. While temperature will not be enough to kill all the germs, the acid in the fruits will take care of the rest.
Knowing the proper ways to store okra is important not only for gardeners but also to home cooks as well. Storing your vegetables properly ensures they last longer and stay safe for from bacteria. Also, always remember to watch your produce as they grow before you harvest them. Make sure they were safe from garden pests and lived in a secure environment. Unhealthy plants produce unhealthy produce, and they will stay in that state even as you store them.
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