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How to Harvest and Store Okra

Okra pods on plant 1
Okra harvest

Harvest okra when pods are 1 to 4 inches long. Pods are ready for harvest about 60 days after sowing. 

Okra, sometimes called gumbo, is a summer and fall crop. Okra flowers bloom for just one day and pods are ready for picking two or three days later.

Harvest Okra

  • Harvest okra when the pods are 1 to 4 inches long. Pods should be soft and the seed should be only half-grown.
  • The more you pick okra the more you’ll get. When picked often, okra will keep producing until the first frost.
  • Flowers and pods first appear at the base of the plant and then keep producing upward. Okra can easily grow from 4 to 6 feet tall or taller in warm, long-summer regions. In late summer, cut the tops of tall plants back by one-third and new buds and pods will appear along the main stem to produce a late-season crop.
Okra pods
Okra should be harvested “cut-and-come-again”—that means pick pods every other day.

How to Harvest Okra

  • Harvest okra pods using garden pruners or scissors leaving a short stub attached to the fruit. Contact with the stiff hairs on okra leaves can cause some people to itch; wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when you pick okra.
  • Okra should be harvested “cut-and-come-again”—that means pick pods every other day so that you get pods when they are tender and taste best. Don’t let mature pods stay on the plant; they will become stringy and bitter, and—like summer squash—the plant will stop producing.
Okra pods sliced
Use pods immediately or they will begin to lose quality and flavor.

How to Store Okra

  • Okra tastes best the day you pick it. Use pods immediately or they will begin to lose quality and flavor.
  • Okra does not store well, but if you must keep okra more than a day or two, store pods in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable crisper section of the refrigerator.
  • Pods refrigerated for more than a day or two often suffer chilling injury and turn black.

More okra tips at: How to Grow Okra.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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    • To freeze okra: blanch in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes depending on size of pods. Cool immediately in cold water. Drain. Pack into containers leaving headroom. Seal and freeze.

      • Just to verify, do you cut into pieces and then blanch, or whole and blanch? I have a bunch and want to save them for a lady at work, but because of Covid, she won’t be at work till next year. It will be used in Gumbo when she gets them.

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