Most okra is harvested when the pods are between 1 and 4 inches long. Pods longer than 4 inches tend to get very tough, which can be fine for stewing and gumbos but not ideal for quicker cooking. Okra is common in Southern cooking but it is less well known in the other parts of the U.S. If cooked quickly, okra is crunchy; whereas long, slow cooking turns the pods tender. Okra can get famously slimy, and some dishes — like gumbo — use this quality and make the most of its thickening properties. Green okra should be bright green with a bit of fresh fuzz on its surface.