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More on okra

May 1, 2010

I wrote this post a few weeks back, excited about my first attempt at cooking my Okra.  It’s been a bit of a success story in the garden, proving very easy to grow (zero maintenance), and quite prolific in its yield.  From 4 or 5 plants (about 1 square metre), it has produced enough to be the main component of at least 5 or 6 decent meals (as well as my lunch today, but more on that in the next post).

This is him when he first germinates:

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And this is him now (3 months later):

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The okra plants are the tall skinny stalks poking right up in the air.  I’m growing these in raised beds, so the height is slightly deceptive, but to give you an idea of how tall these actually are, those beams are above my head (I’m over 6 feet tall).  I have to climb up on the bench seats to harvest them now.  In terms of growing, I gave them plenty of neglect, and they seemed to do fine.  I should point out though that the past 3 months in Brisbane have been quite wet, so they’ve received plenty of water.  Also, my soil is quite sandy, so this might have an impact.

Here’s a close up of the vegetable itself.  Note that mine are quite fat compared to the ones you might see in the stores – not sure if that’s a result of picking them too late, or just a different variety.  Don’t let them get too big though, else they’ll become quite tough and woody.

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The vegetables form where the flowers drop off. Some of my friends have said they almost look like flower pods, ready to open, but I assure you this is what you’re meant to eat.  Here’s what the flowers look like before the pods form (quite nice I think):

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And even though I’ve been harvesting regularly, there’s still plenty more to come…

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When harvesting, its important to note that you should WEAR GLOVES!!!!  I cannot emphasise this enough people.  Okra is quite spiky all over, on both the vegetable and the plant (similar to the spikes on pumpkin vines).  This irritated my skin quite badly when picking, so be careful.

From what I understand, Okra is used in the cuisines of Africa, India, and the southern United States (by way of the slaves no doubt).  It’s an essential ingredient in the famous dish Gumbo, which is a soup whose body is made from the gelatinous texture that you get out of Okra.  Some people think it’s slimey and off-putting, but for me it’s not that bad.  It just gives soups and sauces a bit more body, and provides a slippery mouth feel as you eat.

Flavour wise, it doesn’t have a strong flavour.  But what it does have is something reminiscent of capsicum – it’s very subtle, but definitely there.

I’ll put up a few recipes that we’ve tried using Okra after this so you an see how it’s used.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 12, 2010 2:39 pm

    I tried to cook Okra the other week and it was a major fail. The suckers were so slimy. Eerrgh. Don’t know what I did wrong?

    Looking forward to seeing how your little tree progresses! You should deep fry it like the yanks. Or not.

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