How to Use Giant Okra

Don't toss okra that grows too big

Okra on table

Ngoc To Vy Nguyen / EyeEm / Getty Images

Bigger is not always better, especially when you're talking okra. As the okra season goes on, the okra pods get bigger. And, much like zucchini and other fruits and vegetables that get big, okra can get a bit woody, and its tempting, delicate flavor can take on a bitter edge as the pods grow to giant-like proportions.

But, there are solutions to these problems. Or, rather, knowing what kind of fruit you're cooking will help you to get the most from it. While there is no guarantee okra's mild taste will come through in the giant variety, okra pods are best cooked one of two ways: stewed or baked.

Cooking Giant Okra

Slowly cook your overlarge okra into a gumbo or stew to soften their pod structure. The key here is to cut the okra into bite-size pieces, so the fruit (yes, okra technically is a fruit) is tender.

Or, slit the pods down the side and stuff them with a bit of cheese or spicy meat mixture (an Indian mixture like kheema would be delicious) and bake at 350 F to 375 F, covered, until everything is wonderfully tender. Continue cooking uncovered until your stuffed okra and add-ons are nicely brown. If the okra itself is bitter, slide your meat and cheese mixture onto your plate and discard the pods that surrounded the tasty mixture.

Okra is best when it's small, and it's versatility in the kitchen allows it to be prepared in various ways. You can eat it raw or cooked, stewed, grilled, pickled, or fried. Put it in soups and stews, or season it and make a snack of it. It's all good, and good for you, too. Okra contains potassium, vitamin B, vitamin C, folic acid, and calcium. It's low in calories and high in fiber.

Wait Until Next Year

While your giant okra may not be edible this year, the seeds can be used to grow a new crop next season. Leave the okra on the stalk until it dries out, then slice the shell and harvest the seeds. 

Decorating Tips

The distinctive shape of the giant okra makes it ideal to create wreaths and Christmas ornaments. They start out the same way. Dry the okra, either on the stem or by spreading it out on a cookie sheet and placing it in a 150 F oven for six to 10 hours. You want your okra thoroughly dried to prevent mildew

You can paint the okra, lacquer it, or even leave it natural. Then let your imagination flow. Paint a Santa face on an okra pod, complete with flowing white beard. Or consider topping your tree with a star made from the okra pod.