Valley Bounty: Okra

Growing up in New England and New York, I never ate okra as a child. It wasn’t something my parents grew up eating, so it wasn’t something they made for their children either. It wasn’t until I graduated college and started working around produce that I even had a clear sense what okra looked like. I remember asking some of my coworkers at the time what it was like and hearing that it was “too slimy”, or simply some nonspecific displeasure. Maybe okra is one of those foods that some people encounter poorly prepared and find themselves once bitten and twice shy, or maybe I’m not as sensitive to food texture as some others are, but either way I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the okra I eventually brought home and sautéed with some bacon (I don’t think the bacon can take all the credit for this). Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside with a flavor somewhat like eggplant, fried okra has a knack for balancing salty, spicy, or sour flavors. And for the slime-phobic among us, I’ve heard roasting okra in a pan is a good way to replicate the crisp texture while avoiding excess mucilage (a sugar compound in the seeds that is the culprit behind the slime).

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)