Other names: lady's finger, gumbo, bhindi, bindi, bamia (Hibiscus esculenta)
Availability: Green:all year. Red:December- April.
Source: Mexico and the United States.
Handling Tips: 45-50°F. Keep cool and dry.
General Information: Okra is the fruit of a large vegetable plant thought to be of African origin. It was brought to the United States three centuries ago by African slaves. The word, derived from the West African nkruma, was in use by the late 1700s. Grown in tropical and warm temperate climates, it is in the same family as the hibiscus and cotton plants.
The fruit, a long generally ribbed fuzzy pod developing in the leaf axil, grows rapidly after flowering. The edible part is the fruit pod which varies in color from yellow to red to green.
When cut, okra releases a sticky substance with thickening properties, useful for soups and stews. Gumbos, Brunswick stew, and pilaus are some well-known dishes which commonly use okra.
Nutritional: Fresh okra contains a fair amount of vitamins A and C.
Applications: Okra is added to stews and gumbos for flavor and thickness. It can also be braised, baked or fried. Okra can be served raw, marinated in salads or cooked on its own, and goes well with tomatoes, onions, corn, peppers, and eggplant. Whole, fresh okra pods also make excellent pickles. Its subtle flavor can be compared to eggplant, though the texture is somewhat unusual. Many people prefer breaded and fried okra, because the slippery substance is less pronounced.