Silly Food Fact
Okra is often called “Lady’s Fingers” outside of the United States due to its slender, tapered pods, shaped just like fingers. Okra is a misunderstood vegetable by many who are unfamiliar with it … how do you eat it? is it really slimy? does it have a taste? A little education is definitely in order because okra is healthy, versatile, and easy to cook.
Why Our Bodies Love It
Okra is dense in nutrients, low in calories, and a great source of fiber, vitamin C, and manganese. It’s also high in calcium, potassium, and folates. Okra is truly a star in providing vitamin K, which promotes strong bones and healthy blood: one low-calorie cup of raw okra provides a whopping 66% RDA of this vitamin!
Care and Picking
Hot weather is the secret to growing productive okra. This plant is among the most tolerant vegetables in the world—it can take poor soil, handles dry spells, and is usually not bothered by pests. Okra plants grow 4-6 feet tall, and when the seed pods develop, be sure to pick them before they get tough and stringy. Once picked (or purchased), place whole, unwashed okra in the refrigerator crisper drawer (wrapped in a paper towel or plastic bag). Use within a couple days. Wash; discard tops; and microwave, fry, roast, or add to hearty gumbos.
Pull out your green thumb and learn how to grow your own okra here!
Tips and Warnings
There are very fine spines that cover okra pods and leaves. These aren’t sharp, but they do have a chemical that may irritate your skin, so wear gloves when handling. Yes, okra does have a “goo” or slime in the center of the pods. To minimize, avoid over-boiling; for best results, lightly steam. Cooking with something acidic, like tomatoes or vinegar, can reduce sliminess. In soups like gumbo, this gummy fluid acts as a thickening agent. Here are some great okra cooking tips: