The Lady’s Q&A: Summer Fruits and Vegetables

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The Lady’s Q&A: Summer Fruits and Vegetables

By Paula Deen

Aside from spending time with my family, there’s nothing I like to do better than talk to folks about cooking. This week I’m answering your questions about summer garden fruits and vegetables since our gardens are runnin’ wild right now with them! Keep sending in your cookin’ questions and every couple of weeks, I’ll answer the ones that most people are asking about. Maybe you’ll even see your name here!

I’m from way up North, and haven’t tried okra before. How would you describe the flavor?
By Jennifer M. from Portland, ME

Paula’s Answer:
Hey Jennifer! Some days during the hot Savannah Summer, I wish I lived up near you! First of all, I think Okra must taste just like heaven because I love it so much! Describing it, I would say it’s flavor is similar to an eggplant with a bit of artichoke and asparagus thrown in for good measure. It has a rich earthy flavor and when picked at just the right time it can even seem a little sweet. I do hope you try some. Here are a couple of starter recipes you might enjoy. Okra Laced Hoecakes, Cajun Tempura Okra with Scallion Dipping Sauce, Pickled Okra and The Lady and Sons Okra and Tomatoes. Let me know how you like them Jennifer!

I want to can some of the tomatoes from my garden and your Canned Tomato recipe calls for blanching them and removing the skins first. I have NEVER blanched anything! How long do I boil (?) the tomatoes??
By Pat Goldmann

Paula’s Answer:
Pat, you are going to be so happy come November when you pop open a jar of your fresh tomatoes to make a sauce, soup or stew. Blanching is easy, so don’t be intimidated. It’s actually kind of magical! Get a large stockpot of water boiling and have another large mixing bowl of ice water (we call this an ice bath) ready. Wash your tomatoes and using a paring knife, cut a small “X” at the base of each tomato just through the skin. Drop the tomatoes in the boiling water for about 15 seconds. Remove them (I like to use a large spider) and immediately pop them into the ice water. This will stop the tomatoes from cooking further. Remove from the ice water and peel off the skins starting from the “X” at the base. Magic!

Learn more about canning here!

Paula, what is the difference between pickling cucumbers and regular salad/burpless cucumbers? Can they both be used for making pickles?
By Darlene D. from Higbee, MO

Paula’s Answer:
I get asked this question a lot Darlene so don’t feel alone. I learned all of my pickling savvy from my Aunt Peggy who I have crowned the Pickling Princess! Pickling cucumbers usually have a thinner skin than the salad varieties. The thinner skin allows for the brine solution to better penetrate the skin and get into the meat of the cucumber which will give you a crisper and more flavor packed pickle. They are usually short and squat and a dark green color at the stem that fades to lighter green/yellow at the blossom end. As a general rule, salad cucumber varieties don’t make outstanding pickles except for relishes or bread and butter pickles where you would want a softer texture. Either way, it’s important to always start with a fresh crisp cucumber that is not soft or overripe.

My garden is popping at the seams with pickling cucumbers and I want to make pickles for the first time. In your recipe for Icebox Bread and Butter Pickles you don’t specify what type of vinegar to use. Do you have a preference? Thanks!! They sound great!!
By Jan Johnson

Paula’s Answer:
Jan, I think it’s just a matter of your personal taste. For the most part, I use cider vinegar because I like the flavor. I have a friend who only uses white vinegar. Since you have so many cucumbers, why don’t you try a recipe with cider vinegar and one using white vinegar. Have fun with it and do a blind taste test with your family and friends. See which version they like better and make it your signature recipe!

Paula, I planted a large herb garden this year. I loved your article on How To: Dry Herbs. Can I also freeze them? If so, how do I do it?
By Sharon N. from Atlanta, GA

Paula’s Answer:
Congratulations Sharon! Herbs are probably the most gratifying things I grow in my own garden next to my pear trees. I try to encourage everyone to have fresh herbs growing. Even in a small space like a window sill, you can have a few pots planted. Or plant one big pot out on a balcony or front porch. The answer to your question is YES! There are actually a few different methods for freezing herbs (like processing them up with water, stock or oil and freezing in ice cube trays. This way is great if you are using them in soups or stews.) but this is the way I normally do it, it’s basically the same way I freeze fresh berries. First of all, I pick the best looking herbs from my garden. I wash them and pat them dry. Then, I line a sheet tray (or any tray that will fit in my freezer) with wax paper and lay the herbs on it and freeze them over night. The next day, I remove them from the tray and place them in a freezer bag (don’t forget to label the bag) and suck the excess air out with a straw. Then back in the freezer they go until I’m ready to use them. I’ve found freezing herbs this way keeps the herbs texture and pungency intact for several months.

Hey Miss Paula! I have an abundance of green bell peppers from my garden, but I want to make your Stuffed Red Peppers recipe. Can I substitute the green for the red? What’s the difference in bell peppers?
By Scott P. Fort Worth, TX

Paula’s Answer:
A man who gardens! Scott you are dream! Most people don’t know that the various colored bell peppers (green, yellow, orange and red) all come from the same plant. The difference is their maturity. Green bell peppers are those harvested before they are fully ripe. If they were allowed to stay on the vine, they would go through the various color stages of ripening and in turn sweetening. Orange and yellow bell peppers are more mature than those green and I think they taste a bit more fruity. Red bell peppers are more mature than the green, yellow and orange. They are packed with almost eleven times more beta-carotene than the green ones and taste so sweet to me. Scott, did you know that sweet paprika is made from red bell peppers? To answer your question –YES! My recipe for stuffed red bell peppers is equally good using a green pepper…just not as sweet.

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Reader Comments:


Hi Paula, Need your help I pickled some jalapenos and canned them went to eat some and they are just mush and melt in your mouth. What do I need to do to keep them firm ?

By Janice salinas on August 22, 2013


Please Help! I made your Zucchini Pie and LOVED IT! We have lot's of fresh zucchini in our garden this time of year and my daughters wedding is 10 days away. It's an outdoor wedding in Walpole N.H. and we are hosting the first night's dinner party. Your Zucchini Pie would be a hit if I could make a lot of it. We are thinking about 50 people. I anyone could help before Aug. 7, 2011 I would really be thankful! Sincerly, Mary Doughty 978-649-4473

By Mary Doughty on August 01, 2011


Paula, please consider adding a Light Pink with White speckles color to your cookware line! I would love to have a set like that. Thanks.

By Sam on July 30, 2011


Dear Paula, I am trying to open a brown bag lunch service in my area...could you please give me advice on how to deliver my ideas and lunches to others beside customers that i have established. I would like to know how u put the product out to the public ty debi price

By debi price on July 25, 2011


Hi to Paula and Family ,like everyone love your show.I just bought one of your box baking mix 40oz. and it's wonderful my 6yr. old grandaughter loved it with honey & BUTTER lol...she even helped in cutting them out.anyways MRS.Paula the box says for pancakes,waffles,biscuits,muffins &more; where can I find these recipies the box doesn't say where to go for more recipies HOPE YOU CAN HELP !!!!Thanks and love to you God Bless.lynn moreno

By lynn on July 25, 2011


If a recipe calls for plain or all purpose flour, can you use self-rising flour instead? THANKS!

By Terri Hughes on July 23, 2011


Dear Paula Deen, My name is Taylor and I am 13 years old.I am a huge fan of your show and cooking.I don't know if you remeber me but i meet you in Alantis(bahamas) the week of july 10th.I just want to say thankyou for taking the time out on your vaction to talk to me. I love to cook .Thats why my dad made me a garden in my back yard.I am growing string beans,cucumber,tomatoes and zucchini.Also i love to bake sweets.Cakes are my favorite.This year i am doing course 2 for cake decorating.I am so excited!!Anyway i would love to send you some pictures of my cakes.Thanks again for everything. P.S-Do you have a good recipe for zucchini?? Your biggest fan, Taylor <33

By Taylor Freer on July 22, 2011


Dear Paula Deen, My name is Taryn medina from Pueblo,Colorado and I'm twelve years old. My dream is to become a gourmet chef, I want to also combine my dream of being an artist into cooking. I am inspired into cooking by my nani {grandma} ahe cooks mostly mexican food and has taught me alot including fam,ily handed down recipes. In artistry i am inspired by my dad he is a great artist but never was able to show his drawings to the world like others. I am already looking into schools for culinary arts, I also want to show others that it dosent matter how old you are or where your from everyone can cook in they're own way. Sincerely, Taryn Medina

By Taryn Medina on July 21, 2011


Hey Donna Price! I have found that ears of sweet corn harvested at the peek of the season should just be blanched for 4 minutes (fully shucked and all silks removed) and then plunged into ice water for the same amount of time. Remove from the ice water, dry and then remove the kernels from the ear before freezing. You will be so tickled to taste fresh summer corn come December!

By Paula Deen on July 19, 2011


Hey Paula Deen, I love your style and food. I saw your budget meal shows and you introduced Arthur who had a college cooking website. Could you give me that website? Please and Thank you!

By Katherine on July 19, 2011


Hi Paula, I love every show you make and everything you cook and I truly admire the dedication that brought you to where you are. I just love you and your husband together. You are both such cuties. My question for you is pertaining to pineapple upside down cake. Every time I make it people go crazy over it. I wish there were a better cake recipe for it. I make it from the Betty Crocker orange cookbook. It still is a wonderful recipe, but the cake part seems so heavy as opposed to other cakes. I look forward to hearing from you. Rheta (Rita)

By Rheta O'Neal on July 19, 2011


A couple years ago in a Paula Deen magazine there were 3 recipes for popcorn seasonings to make to give as gifts. I am trying to find those recipes once again to make as gifts. Can you help me locate them? I tried this site but they did not come up in the search for popcorn seasonings. Thanks so much! Kathy

By Kathy on July 18, 2011


Hey Mrs. Paula! My local vegetable stand has purple bell peppers this year. I've never seen those before. Have you ever heard or seen those? Can you describe their flavor as compared to the other ones (green/red/yellow)? Thanks for your help! P.S. I got to visit Lady & Sons last month on vacation. Your crab cakes are THE BEST!

By Kevin Wood on July 18, 2011


My daughter makes the best chicken n rice i ever had,i keep telling her patent it, Considering i hate rice, but it's the best from this south.So with no money how i do go about getting her food on a store shelf?? Love your show, watch it all the time. THANKS for any advice you got!!!

By I received a gift from Charlie Sondergaard ► Tha on July 18, 2011


Paula, First let me say I LOVE you & your recipes we have made several out of your cookbook . My question is I have a garden with many pepper variety I have Ivory, Purple, Red, Yellow, Green, and a new variety red cherry peppers. Any suggestions on how to use all of them for a pretty colorful salad or something? The Ivory pepper is very thick! Would love anything you have suggestion wise.

By Julie on July 18, 2011


how do I store fresh green beans from my garden till I have enough to can?

By blythe on July 18, 2011


Corn is coming in and I need to cut some off the cob to freeze. How long do I cook the corn? Does it need any seasoning?

By Donna Price on July 18, 2011


I truly love all your recipes. Southern cooking is so gratifying. I was at a 4th of July party recently and there was a corn casserole with chopped jalapenos. OMG it was so delicious. They said it was a Paula Deen recipe but to no avail I have not been able to find it. Could you please help me with this. I would like to make this over and over. Thank you very much.

By Linda Meymann on July 18, 2011


if all bell peppers came from the same plant there wouldn't different plants and seeds. I've grown peppers and they were certain colors on certain plants, not al colors grown on one plant.

By donnA on July 18, 2011


Love you and the way you cook. I was given two large zuchnni squashes. I am not particularly found of that vegetable but I tried your zuchinni bread recipe and it was absolutely delicious. Iwas told that it tasted like bananna bread. Do you have a bannana bread recipe that you can share. Hope to hear from you soon. Gayle

By Gayle Hutchins on July 18, 2011

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