Popular Varieties: Artist, Burgundy, Pure Luck
Store At: 7-10°C
Comes From: Tropics and warm temperate climates
Okra has been in cultivation for centuries, thought to originally come from nothern Africa around the region of the upper Nile and Ethiopia, from where it spread towards Saudi Arabia and India. It's earliest record of cultivation is in Egypt.
From here it spread to the Caribbean and southern North America by the slave trade - they brought it over from Africa as a food crop.
Okra is quite extensively used in soups, stews and curries in oriental cooking, due to it's spicy taste. They can be sautéed or fried, and commonly eaten as accompaniment to meat or poultry.
Middle eastern recipes often involve soaking the whole pods in lemon juice, salting, and then frying and eating as a vegetable.
Brass, Iron or Copper pans should not be used to cook Okra, because they will discolour. Also, be careful not to overcook the pods, for they become slimy.
You do not have to cook okra - it can be eaten raw in salads or used as a salsa-type dip. Okra seed oil is also used for cooking.
Strangely enough, okra is also used to addto artificial blood plasma products.
Commonly grown in the tropics or warm temperate regions, okra can be grown in temperate regions such as England, but will benefit greatly from being under cover.
The seeds have a hard seed coat, so they must be soaked in warm water for 24 hours before planting. Soil temperature should be about 16 C before sowing; they should be sown in rows roughly 60 cm apart, with the same distance between plants. Alternatively, sow in pots or modules under cover and plant out as necessary when the temperature warms up sufficiently.
Okra should be grown in fertile well-drainedsoil, so plenty of organic material such as compost should be dug into the ground some weeks before planting. Plants should be staked when they are large enough, and the growing tip of the plant pinched out when they are about 30cm tall, to promote bushy growth.
General purpose fertilizer should be used while the plants are establishing themselves, then a liquid high-potash feed (such as tomato feed) used every 2 weeks or so when flowering and fruiting.
Okra can be grown in containers - they should be 25cm (10in) minimum, or growbags as a last resort, and make sure they don't dry out too much.
To harvest, use a sharp knife rather than twisting the pod off the stem, and pick when young before they get too tough. Pick regularly for a constant supply. Harvested pods can be kept for up to 10 days if wrapped in a plastic bag in the refridgerator.
It may be hard to find specific varieties in the supermarkets, but easier from seed. Varieties such as Artist, Burgundy and Pure Luck are some of the preferred strains.
One of the best varieties for growing in cooler climates (allbeit under cover), Pure Luck should be harvested when the pods are about 5cm (2in) long.
An odd variety, with purple-red pods which turn green when cooked.
A tall variety, Burgundy grows to 5ft, with rich red coloured pods, excellent for salads. Unfortunately, this red colour is again lost when cooking.
Serving Size:100g cooked
|Calories: 31, Calories from Fat: 1|
|% Daily Value *|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
| Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 7g||2%|
| Dietary Fibre 3g||13%|
Vit A: 7% , Vit C: 35% , Vit D: 0% , Vit K: 0%
Iron: 4% , Calcium: 8%
Traces: Riboflavin, Niacin, Zinc, Copper, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Manganese
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.