Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Next Experiment: Dehydrated Okra "Chips"

I keep getting really useful and intriguing tips from my friend in north Mississippi, the last of which was that regular okra, fresh or frozen, can be dehydrated after being sliced in the standard rounds...and makes a great, healthy snack...supposed to be delicious (even for those not usually inclined to like okra), and really nutritious!

Supposedly, yep...you just plop 'em on the dehydrator racks and get it going (okra "slime" and all) and a few hours later you take the finished product, store in airproof container, and eat it like you would chips or other snacks.  

I consulted the Google oracle to see if many people out here already are doing that, but didn't find a whole lot of mention besides a lady who seasons hers first with Tony's seasoning (creole) before dehydrating.  And guess who happens to have a random shaker of Tony's seasoning in the bursting spice shelf? Yay!

I have bags of frozen okra.  The reason this one's worth a try for me is HUGELY because the nutrition is up there in exchange for really NO down sides...there's no flour or starches added, it's a green vegetable, and its mucilagenous (sp?) qualities mean good things for joint and bone health.

Second reason?   It can grow here, and in SO many zones, like a weed (but not invasive).   Two years ago we did an experiment and simply sowed the seeds directly into fresh stable cleanings right on top of the ground, and mid-season the bermuda was thick as thieves all around it but it vanquished even the knee-high bermuda grass...now THAT's a survival plant!  

We need some okra love around here...we do like it in gumbo-ish stews and  love love love it fried, but we don't NEED to be eating it fried very much, and since frugality and health have become prime factors in this household, soup is almost always on the menu as the main event or as a side.  That said...there is only so much soup okra can go in...it has unique characteristics. 

There are a lot of vegetarians and a lot of other cultures that already utilize okra really well, here's an example of some worth trying.  It definitely is worth some further branching-out (ha no pun intended) with recipes and some ethnic favorites...I'll try to do that this summer.   But for now...dehydrating sounds...easy!  (especially since I have bags and bags of okra languishing in the freezer, feeling neglected).

SO....finding a way to make it into delicious "chips"....yes, yes, and YES!

Let's see if it delivers on my expectations, or if I can find ways to tweak it to be a go-to treat.  If so...we can be assured of almost UNLIMITED nutritional snacking!  WOO!

So....tonight I load up the cheapo, lawnmower-decibel-level dehydrator (our only one at  present) and pretend it's "white noise" to fall asleep to...ha!   and perhaps by the morning, I'll be taste-testing.

I'll report back, hopefully with pics...couldn't seem to find any "okra chip" pics on the Net, either.

Has anyone out here ever made it??   If so, I'd love to hear! 

Any other unsuspecting dried veggies that function well as "chips" that you know of?   I have yet to try kale "chips" but they too are on the Try Soon list :)

18 comments:

Paulette said...

I love this idea! I love okra, Mike hates it, but sans slime he might go for it :-). I have a dehydrator that I don't think about using except when strawberries and peaches come along.
Okra grows like crazy here too...like inches within a day.
I did hear of someone making zucchini chips. That might be good, and it's very easy to grow too.

jayedee said...

well? how'd it turn out?

Robbyn said...

If at first you don't succeed...lol...didnt turn out well but Jack ate some anyway and liked them. Which means that just because "Mikey" will eat things does NOT necessarily mean they are edible, ha!!

Phelan said...

Off subject, but I wanted to thank you Robbyn for everything over the past few years. I admire the way you stand up for your convictions, and the was you handle yourself in difficult situations. I admire your stick-to-itness. And to thank you for sharing your knowledge, be it successes or not, with us.

Robbyn said...

Paulette, I'll have to keep trying to get something edible from it. They didn't turn out as anything I'd enjoy snacking on. I love the zucchini chip idea and will try it!

Jayedee...yep, EPIC FAIL, lol...but too stubborn to keep from trying againn ;-)

Marcy, (((((((((((((HUGE hug))))))))) You have no idea how much those words mean to me...thank you, my friend. Your blog was one of the first two homesteading ones I ever found, and am so grateful to have followed these last few years. You're not a quitter, and I learn so much from you! Thank you again:)

Anonymous said...

I just made okra snacks. I did the WHOLE pod, layered the tray, sprayed olive oil pam, and sprinkled salt.... FANTASTIC. THe only problem was how small the pods ended up. It was one baggie for two trays..... didn't last long :). Any other hints to make it retain it's size?

R said...

Anonymous, I'll have to try it the whole-pod method. We haven't put in any okra plants (yet) this year...not sure if we're going to, but I need to finesse my dehydration skills a bit more. I'm not sure how to keep anything from shrinking that much in the dehydrator...just experimentation? A google search might turn up some other hints...Let me know if you crack the code :)

Robbyn/thebackforty

john said...

Just purchased some dried, whole pod okra at The Fresh Market - an upscale, but small grocery chain in the Southeast. They are delicious. I am going to have to break out the dehydrator and give it a shot.

foodie.fan said...

Let me know how your whold okra attempts work out. I too endulged in the okra chips sold at the Fresh Market. I have been curious as to how they are made as they hold their brught green color as well as that rounded okra shape. I noticed that dextrin was on the list of ingredients. Dextrin is used to enhance flavor, color, and crispness.However, I am not sure how the process would work. Any thoughts?

foodie.fan said...

I too was able to endulge in the wonderful okra chips from the fresh market. I have been trying to think of how to mimic the recipe ever since. These okra chips have a vibrant color and have managed to retain their beautiful shape. I know that a dehrydrator nor an oven would provide the same results. I am thinking that they will need to be manipulated one way or another. I reviewed the ingredients and found DEXTRIN to be interesting. After googling destrin, I learned that it is used to enhance flavors, color, and crispiness. However, I am clueless as to how this ingredient is even utilized. Any thoughts?

Myrtle said...

Hi! I stumbled onto your blog in my search for information about making dehydrated okra chips. What I've learned is that the Fresh Market ones are made by vacuum frying.... Oh well. But I'm going to drag out the old dehydrater and try this when fresh okra comes in this summer!

Anonymous said...

@ Myrtle...Vaccum frying! Why does that sound scary and dangerous? I just chowed down on Fresh Markets okra this afternoon, my own kids won't try it but the neighbor's kids (2 and 4) loved it! I wish I could find a recipe to make whole pod okra chips, they are so good for kids to munch on instead of potato chips!

Anonymous said...

Just did a batch of these today..... They were really good. As far as keeping the green color and round shape, try using lemon juice. It help with mine and it does not chance the flavor.

Anonymous said...

Tried dehydrating whole pods and they turned out VERY tough and totally uneatible. Not sure what I did wrong. Any Ideas?

Anonymous said...

Here from louisiana and just so yall know frozen okra will shrivel up small fresh okra split down the middle is the best way to do it I am eating a bag now and its awesome light sprinkle of tonys is all you need but FYI the crunch will shoot a lil spice up your nose!

Ken in Arkansas said...

Yes, Yes, Yes, dehydrated okra is delicious. My children and grand children love it. I dehydrate it without any seasoning so each person can have it the way they like it. I personally like to mist it with olive oil and then sprinkle on various seasonings. When done this way you have a delicious and healthful snack. About two gallons of raw sliced okra will dehydrate down to about five pint canning jars full. It will keep its flavors better if it is vaccum packed in the jars.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Ken

I have an Excalibur dehydrator and have tried to make okra chips many times and have failed....shrinks and like leather. What temperature are you using and about how long...do you blanch before or steam okra...i assume you mist with olive oil and seasonings afterwards...? I just bought the dehydrator and wondering if I just don't know how to dehydrate correctly. Thanks for your help!!

Denise in South Carolina

Anonymous said...

I KNOW IF YOU WANT YOUR DEHYDRATED PEPPERS TO RETAIN COLOR AND TEXTURE, YOU BLANCH THEM FIRST. ALSO IF THE OKRA IS TOUGH BEFORE YOU DRY IT, STANDS TO REASON IT WOULD BE TOUGH AFTERWARD ALSO.