Okra

Strange thing okra. I learned of it some years ago and have developed a taste for it. Okra is not found on grocery shelves very often where I live. It is listed as a fruit, but used as a vegetable. Many people dislike it because of the seeds. They are described as being slimy. I kind of like that taste.

My first introduction to okra was at a Country Kitchen restaurant where it is served as a side dish. They slice the fruit into disks, battered and fried. My first taste was that of nothing special, yet I kept ordering them as a side for my usual entree.

This summer, I have been finding okra in the vegetable section of my local grocery chain. I buy a package of the green pepper-shaped fruit and eat them raw. By the and, they work well as a KETO snack. A cup full of this fruit provides the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 33
  • Carbs: 7 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Magnesium: 14% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Folate: 15% of the DV
  • Vitamin A: 14% of the DV
  • Vitamin C: 26% of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 26% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 14% of the DV

Okra is grown in sub-tropical climates such as Africa and South America, although I have grown it in my salad garden just to learn what it looks like on the green. I planted six seed clusters and got six robust thigh-high green plants resembling those of green pepper. I got lucky while exploring in the garden one day by looking under the leaves and found some rather attractive large pale yellow flowers resembling hibiscus blooming there unseen. That is when I began to watch more closely because I didn’t know when to pick the fruit or how they would present. Sure enough the long skinny green fruit developed from the flower. The next step was to learn when to pick them. I started picking when they were very young, maybe two inches long. Because I like them so much I tasted what I picked right off the plant. They were tender and delicious. In a couple of days they were between three and four inches long, and still tender. I picked more and learned it was time to harvest; except they never made it to the table. I ate them all as I picked. They were luscious. I let the plants rest for a week and picked again. This time I learned that if they are too aged they turn into fibrous pieces of rope. Ugh! The older longer fruit develop an outer layer of very stringy, tough, hard to chew fiber. I likened it to hemp rope. The time to pick okra is when it is young, tender and delicious. Maybe old okra can be saved by cooking it in a stew or gumbo, but I would prefer not to use it at all.

There are many ways to use okra. One is in fresh green salads, or french fried, or in a gumbo with other vegetables like tomatoes, onions, and peppers. Some people grill okra until it is charred, others broil it, then there are those who roast it. I am at a point where I will try it any way it comes.

4 Responses

  1. Okra, or rather its cousin ladyfinger, is a popular summer veggie in India. In my experience, children especially like it. But have never heard of anyone having it raw.

  2. Our garden didn’t do well this season. Too much cool and wet weather, then, in true Texas fashion, it went directly to furnace hot. The squash didn’t yield, no did the tomato’s. Our Okra plants are producing like champs and I plan to have some this evening.

    • I didn’t plant a single thing this year, but I did split some Hosta plants for transplants. The rabbits ate them down to the ground. Such is the luck of the amateur gardener.

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