Last week we posted an article about two crazy uses for okra that we were going to try out. One was stir-fried okra leaves and the other was coffee made out of okra seeds! We haven’t gotten around to the stir-fried okra greens yet, but we did try the okra seed coffee – and here’s how the experiment turned out!
Following the procedure expounded in Southern Field and Fireside by Doctor N.B. Cloud of Savannah Georgia in 1863, we obtained nine large okra pods from our garden, split them with a knife and peeled the pith from around the seeds, arriving at a few tablespoons of seeds.
Dr. Cloud warns that okra seeds are very easy to burn while you are roasting them. These, we toasted in a toaster oven for about 15 minutes, watching them constantly and shaking the pan to roll them occasionally. I decided to take them out of the oven when we had a light, blonde roast.
When the seeds had cooled a couple of minutes I popped them into an electric coffee grinder and pulsed them a few times.
I wound up with about 2 teaspoons of medium grind light roasted okra seeds, which I dumped into my French press and added 2 cups of nearly-boiling water. I wrapped the press in a couple of oven mitts and waited about 5 minutes for the elixir to steep.
The brew that we arrived at was more of a tea than a coffee, Perhaps I could have toasted them longer and gotten a darker color.
Doctor Cloud declared his okra coffee, “very pleasant and quite agreeable,” but our proof would be in the tasting.
Of all things that this “coffee” could be compared to, I think it tasted most like gumbo. That is, a gumbo that is missing the sausage and the chicken and the crab and the shrimp and the roux and the salt… In other words, it tasted like the liquid from a pot of boiled okra. Ha! who would have guessed it?
I did not find it “pleasant and agreeable,” But perhaps if I were trapped behind a blockade, deprived of coffee and tea for a year or so, and desperate to drink something just to retain the memory of pre-war luxuries, I might find the taste more acceptable.
I think maybe the take-away lesson here is NEVER revolt against your country or you’ll end up living in caves, eating cats, and drinking okra coffee!
In the words of Thornton Wilder, immortalized in Our Town, “T’weren’t no miracle!” Fortunately, not every experiment has to be replicated.
Photos by Elise D. Parker