Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Wash the okra under cool water. Cut off the stems and slice each pod crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds.
Combine the okra and the rest of the ingredients in a large heavy ovenproof pot, not cast iron. Mix well. Cover the pot with a lid. Bake, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the slime has disappeared. Bake, uncovered, for the last 15 minutes of the cooking time. The time will vary, depending on the tenderness of the okra. Remove the bay leaves.
Serve immediately or let cool completely and store in freezer containers.
Recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine