It’s summertime, which in Houston means that we should be beginning to harvest our Okra. Okra is one of my favorite vegetables, both as a raw snack and grilled. Easy to pickle, dry, or use fresh, it serves as one of the most versatile and usable vegetables out there. Folks have been enjoying Okra for an exceptionally long time, its origin is most likely in mountainous Eritrea as it grows wild there, but all over the Middle East and the Mediterranean, Okra is a celebrated ingredient.
Nutritionally, one cup (100 grams) of raw Okra contains:
– 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
(7 Nutrition and Health Benefits of Okra (healthline.com).
If you follow that source, you will also see the exciting and inflammation-fighting compound called mucilage, which can bind to cholesterol during digestion, causing it to be excreted with stools rather than absorbed into your body. Heart health is a beautiful reason to enjoy yummy foods.
Okra loves organic fertilizing and our clay soils; it can handle uneven watering and our heat. It will grow taller with less water and more compact with more volume and consistency with watering. The fruit of Okra (yes, botanically a fruit) stays tender longer with regular watering, a good thing to keep in mind.
If you are consistently watering and fertilizing or not, harvesting the fruit often is the last component of care with this hardly plant. Two to three inches is my preferred size, and bigger is not better. One plant should make a hundred or so fruits, but not all at once, so grow a couple of plants for mealtime harvesting.
Delicious and straightforward grilled Okra (Grilled Okra Recipe | Allrecipes) is a tasty treat and will cut down the often dislike sliminess that some folks associate with Okra. Chopping for soup and pickling are great ways to use it as well.
Other uses include:
the ripened seeds yield an edible oil that is equal to many other cooking oils. In Mediterranean countries and the East, where edible oils are scarcer than in our country, okra oil is no rarity.
The ripe seeds of Okra are sometimes roasted and ground as a substitute for coffee. A close relative of Okra, roselle, is used as a source of fiber for cloth.
In Turkey, the leaves are used in preparing a medicament to soothe or reduce inflammation. (Okra, or “Gumbo,” from Africa | Archives | Aggie Horticulture (tamu.edu))