Heirloom Red Okra

by Daisy

I ran into a neighbor friend at the market early this summer and she offered to bring me some red okra seeds.

Of course I agreed.

She walked over one day soon thereafter with an envelope with over a dozen nice round seeds.  To help them germinate I put them in ice cube trays, filled the trays with water, and froze them overnight.

The next day I sowed two frosty seed cubes in each hole, covered them, watered, and waited.

It was late in the year to get started, but we have a pretty long growing season here and I think they will have a chance to produce before it gets cool.

They’re about three feet tall now.

I love the red veining and the red stems and buds.

Gardeners crave variety and color.  There’s something so exciting about a plant just a little bit different, or a lot different, especially after we’ve been gardening a few years.

When the seed catalogs appear in January the wild and wonderful cultivars call out my name over the barren tundra of late winter.

Mention “heirloom” and “red” in the same breath and I’m selling my heirlooms to add new plants to the list.

My friend (she of the okra seeds) also shared her recipe for okra fritters.  As soon as my okra produces, I’m making and posting those.  I can’t wait!

Maybe I’ll make them with blue cornmeal . . .

Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Kat August 20, 2010 at 12:13 am

So does this make a red snot instead of a green snot? ‘Cause that would make okra taste sooo much better. Oh wait, no it wouldn’t!
No matter what color it is, it’s still okra, and I’m still ewwwww!

On the other hand, inspired by you guys, I just finished my first-ever crochet project that isn’t a dishcloth earlier this evening! Thanks!!!!

KeLLy Ann August 20, 2010 at 7:25 am


elsa August 20, 2010 at 8:27 am

just had some okra recently, it was really good! I decided to give it a go after having had a terrible experience in the past … it was in a vegan gumbo and was delish! one should always give something a second chance! plus the plant is beautiful!

Linda August 20, 2010 at 9:23 am

Thanks for posting about this. I wonder if it is a early variety and would grow in my Zone 5-6 area? This is something I am going to try when I find the seeds and they work here.


Mary August 20, 2010 at 9:54 am

Hi, ladies! I’ve been trying to find a way to ask you a question, because I thought I saw this somewhere on your site. First, we love OKRA and I can’t wait to find seeds for these. My favorite is stewed okra, zuchinni, and onions. UMMM – delicious. Now I have to make it for dinner.

Original reason for post – what do you use to remove permanent markers? I thought I read it somewhere, but haven’t been able to find it using the search or looking on my own.

Love the site and info. We are going greener (not green yet because I ain’t givin’ up toilet paper). However, we have switched to cloth napkins/paper towels and started using the deo recipe. My husband is on board for now… but we’re only about 2 weeks in. We’ll see how it’s going in another month.

Thanks, gals!

Tanya Walton August 20, 2010 at 4:03 pm

I don’t think I have ever heard of okra…let alone tasted it. When you get some ready to eat please photograph it for me to see.


Suzanne August 20, 2010 at 7:03 pm

This is our second year to grow this beautiful red okra. It is delicious. We like it and my only disappointment in it is that it turns green when cooked. Rats!

portia August 20, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Love your photos–always wonderful. Here’s an okra recipe I invented that is very toothsome:

This recipe uses only the youngest, most tender okra pods. Do not overcook; okra should still be al dente inside its crunchy golden coat. This is good as a side dish, as a finger food snack, or even as an hors d’oeuvre with a savory dipping sauce:
Young, tender okra pods
Corn meal
Egg wash
Salt & Pepper
Oil for frying
~Wash, dry and trim whole okra pods, leaving stem end intact for handle.
~Roll pods first in flour, then in egg wash, then in corn meal. Shake excess corn meal off pods and place on a rack to allow to dry a bit.
~Heat approximately an inch of oil in a large frying pan (bacon grease is wonderful, if you’re not worried about your arteries). When oil starts to shimmer, add pods, do not crowd. Fry until golden, turning to cook on all sides.
~Drain on paper towels, season with salt & pepper to taste, and serve hot.

katklaw777 August 21, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Beautiful pictures…thanks for sharing!

Debbie August 22, 2010 at 5:33 am

We love okra down here in the south. When I was a kid it was a regular meal staple. Now I hardly ever hear of folks eating it. On the gardening side they grow best when temps get really warm. In fact it has to get downright hot before they produce for me. They’re excellent in stews, gumbo, fried, or one of my faces..butter beans, field peas, & okra. Steamed in a pot with a small piece of smoked pork or Turkey. Yum!


Lori August 22, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Those are so beautiful! Would your friend be willing to share the okra fritters recipe? These are definitely on my list for next summer–the green ones just pale in comparison!


Tomato Lady August 23, 2010 at 7:35 pm

lori–Yes! Watch this space. I think the okra will be ready in a week or two.

jan August 27, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Fried okra is sooo good! The nice thing about okra plants, is once they start producing, you almost need to pick them every day. If you let it grow too big, it gets spiney and tough. A plate of fried okra and sliced garden tomatoes is my idea of a perfect summer dunner.

ricky November 27, 2011 at 11:47 am

For those that don’t know. You need to pick the okra with pruning shears when the okra pods are approx. 3-4 inches. Any longer, and the okra will be extremely fibrous (hardly eatable). Freeze, cook, or can immediately.

If growing for seed, leave the pods on the plant until they are completely dried. You don’t neeed to start saving seed until the end of the growing year. If you continue to “pick” the younger pods, then the plant will naturally continue pushing out new bud shoots and growing taller. Four plants will give you enough pods to feed a family a large serving once a week or more.

Sowing at least three feet spacing (better four). A well picked okra plant can get up to seven feet tall – otherwise it will stay around three feet. Good to know if you just want seed the first year.

I haven’t seen a single bug attack these, although I’ve seen a little moth damage. The stink bugs love them for some reason (in the South). Spraying soap and water on the top and under side of the these leaves does help, but is a weekly ordeal.

Greg Curley June 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Someone please help me! I am trying to identify the variety of okra that I am growing. I live in Alabama, and I am growing okra that has red stems (both main and leaf), deep green leaves, and green fruit, with the more mature pods having an “oversprayed’ red tinge. These plants produce long medium diameter pods and the pods are edible up to about 8” long, any larger and they tend to get too tough. If you do not “strip” the plants they tend to get very bushy and if stripped, get over 6 feet tall. Anyone have any variety ideas?

Susan Bishop July 10, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Red Okra fritters need to know how that turns out and would love the recipe.
Thank you

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