How to Harvest and Store Okra
Harvest okra when the pods are 2 to 4 inches long. Okra, sometimes called gumbo, is a summer and fall crop and pods are ready for harvest about 60 days after sowing. Okra flowers bloom for just one day and pods are ready for picking two or three days later.
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.
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.
The more you pick okra the more you’ll get. When picked often, okra will keep producing until the first frost.
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 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.