Latin Name: Abelmoschus esculentus
Okra is a fruit or pod that is 10-25 cm long, the leaves are heart-shaped, with yellow flowers with a crimson center. The fruit or pod is shaped like ladies fingers and slightly hairy on the outside.
Only the tender unripe fruit can be eaten. Test if the nose of the fruit can be bent. If not, they are too old for eating. Cut fruit from the plant instead of pulling it. Can be sautéed, pickled, or used in stews. It is helpful for thickening stews. The seeds, once roasted, are sometimes used as a non-caffeinated coffee replacement. The immature fruit can be used to make a poultice to treat pain. Okra seeds can be used as a source of oil.
Okra can be sauteed, pickled, used in salad, soups, and stews. Fresh okra, once cut open can be used as a thickener for soups and stews. Can be eaten fresh or dried as well. Dried okra can be used as an egg-white substitute or a sauce thickener.
Sliced okra makes dishes slimy. To avoid this, leave the pods whole.
Okra is rich in fiber, folate, and vitamin K. 33 calories per 100 grams. Rich in iron, niacin, phosphorus, and copper. Can be used as a plasma replacement or blood volume expander. Source of antioxidants. The seeds can be used as a high-quality protein.
Okra is a perennial, so must be planted each year. Okra seeds are soaked overnight in water prior to planting, some people soak seeds in buttermilk or a weak vinegar. Okra cannot withstand frost or cold weather, it requires at least 6 hours of sunshine a day. Germination is between 6 days and 3 weeks. Plant at a depth of 1 to 2 centimeters, each plant should be 45-60 cm apart. Requires a medium amount of water, can withstand dry and hot climates, garden bed must be able to drain water. Must be harvested when immature, usually within a week after pollination, they will be 5-7 cm long when ready. If planted from seeds, Okra will be ready for harvest in 3 months. If okra is transplanted it will be ready for harvest in 2 months. Keep in a dry place, store for no more than 3 to 4 days in paper or plastic in a crisper drawer. Do not used shriveled or dry pods, if it is difficult to cut the okra with shears then it is too mature and will not be edible. Once the pods turn dark at the end, they will go bad if they are not used soon. Do not wash or rinse okra until you are ready to use it, keep it dry.
Because it’s rich in vitamin K, those who take blood thinners should be cautious when consuming okra.
High in fructans, okra can cause gastrointestinal problems.
High in oxalates, can increase risk for kidney stones.
High in vitamin K, those at risk for blood clots should be careful when consuming okra.
Promotes strong bones and heart health, and protects against cancer. Rich in folate, Okra aids in fetal development and breastfeeding after birth. Aids in reducing inflammation due to antioxidants. Helps treat diabetes with healthy sugar levels and healthy fats.