Okra

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BASIC INFO

Pronounced: oh-crah

Names: ladies fingers · bhindi · ochre · gumbo

Origin: Africa

Plant: Abelmoschus esculentus

About: Okra is a signature ingredient in African as well as American Southern cooking. It’s most commonly used in stews but can be enjoy like any other vegetable. While the slimy texture tends to shy consumers away, okra can crisp up when deep frying, roasted, or pickled! And with its slew of health benefits, okra will intrigue any wellness junky.

Varieties: green · red

In Season: July – September

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HEALTHY INFO

Benefits: improves vision and skin · eases digestion and constipation

Nutrients: dietary fiber · vitamin A · calcium · iron · magnesium

Calories: 1 cup = 30

Replaces: jalapeños · asparagus

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WHERE TO BUY

Store: your grocery store’s produce section · local farmer’s market

BUY this: pods that are firm and 4-inches small

AVOID this: pods that are discolored, mushy, or cracked

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HOW TO STORE

In the fridge for up to 2-3 days, or in the freezer for 1 year. Before freezing, blanch the okra by placing the pods into boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove, then cool them in ice water. Pat dry before placing in plastic bags and into the freezer.

NOTE: for best cooking results okra should be fresh, so use the pods ideally as soon as you buy them. When the tips and ridges start to turn black, use immediately or discard.

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FUN FACTS

  • Okra is one of the most heat and drought-tolerant vegetable species in the world.
  • When okra came to Virginia in 1781, Thomas Jefferson wrote about it in his diary.
  • Okra seeds can be roasted and ground to form a caffeine-free tea.

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RECIPES

Okra Nachos

Okra with Potatoes

Okra Casserole

Smashed Fried Okra

 

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