About Okra

September 1, 2006

About Okra

Okra, along with watermelon, came to the New World in association with the slave trade. The word “okra” derives from a Ghanaian language.  While understandably popular in the Southeastern U.S., it grows well in our desert climate too.  During the summer it is usually prepared fresh, often stewed with tomatoes, dipped in batter and fried like a fritter, or added to gumbos. For winter use the young pods can be pickled or sliced and dried like fruit. The seeds can be roasted and ground to make a coffee substitute.

Besides green okra, Farmer Frank also grows an heirloom variety known as Texas Hill Country Red. It is drought-tolerant and an excellent pickling variety, but it can also be sliced and eaten raw in salads.

Many people dislike okra for its gumminess, but cooked over high heat with enough room for it to brown instead of stew, okra loses the juices that cause the slimy texture. For crisp okra, fry, stir-fry or grill it; for soft, moist okra, stew it.

Another trick to minimize okra’s gumminess is to let completely dry off after washing it, and before cutting it. Either let it dry off by itself or dry it with paper towels.

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