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Okra

Okra is a flowering plant originating somewhere in Africa, and known in the English speaking world by many other names including, lady’s fingers. It’s commonly used in salads and as an addition to frying dishes in many cuisines across the world.

The plant is cultivated best in tropical, subtropical and warm climates overall. That’s why it works best in the southern parts of the US, mostly in Texas and California where it’s grown in both the small farms and in commercial ones.

Trivia

  • The name lady fingers is new, it originates in the 20th century
  • There are evidence that it was grown in ancient Egypt
  • It’s still the most popular in Africa and Asia minor

Buying Guide

Color is usually the best sign you have at your disposal to figure out how fresh okras are. The pod should be in bright green if it’s fresh and when it’s fully mature they should be about 4 inches long each. They should also be firm and if they feel soft or blemished you should avoid them.

When the okra is to ripe which can happen as well it will have a silky feel to it when touched. Those are to be avoided as well.

Production & Farming in Texas

Okra is grown in the southern and central parts of the state because that’s where the soil and the weather allows for it. For the best yields you should pay special attention to how much sunlight the plant is getting. It should get as much as 8 hours of direct sunlight per day in order to grow successfully.

The soil needs to be prepared for okras and that’s best done by making sure that it’s been worked to be eight to ten inches deep. Compost will also enrich the soil and it’s best to use only organic compost to do so. The soil should also be raked to be leveled and this is best accomplished when the soil is dry.

It should be planted in spring, two or three weeks after the dangers of frost have passed because a frost could kill it. You should also plant to avoid the winter frost by at least two or three months. That’s the only way to make sure your work won’t be in vain.

Okra will produce large flowers about two months after they’ve been planted. The pods will be ready about 4 days later and that’s when they should be picked off. It’s best to pick them every two days to allow all pods to reach maturity over time.

Pesticides

Pesticides are used on okra and the evidence shows that they remain on the plant for quite a long time after they have been used. The chemicals used on okras include: indoxacarb, fenarimol, acetamiprid and chlorfenapyr.

Geography

Okra was firstly used in Africa and there is evidence that it was an important plant for the culinary practices of ancient Egypt. Trade ships coming from Europe have brought it back and it became a part of the culinary practices in France and the Nederland.

Now they are grown in all climates they allow it and with the rise of the focus on world cuisine and healthy dinning it’s been exported and used in restaurants and healthy markets everywhere.

There is evidence that it was used in the US since its founding and Thomas Jefferson was said to be growing it in Virginia himself.

Packaging

Okra deteriorates rapidly at high temperatures and that’s something to take into account when packing it. Carton liners are the best way to protect the plants and to move them easily and in a stackable way. It’s sometimes needed to use separate sheets to wrap them in if the temperature can be a problem.

The temperature should also be regulated in the storage area and in the store where the okras are sold as well.

Eating

Okra is relativity easy to prepare and the cooking itself depends on how you use it as a side dish. 8 ounces of it will be enough for you to serve a meal for four. Wash them and drain them well so that you’re sure that they can be stored or used.

Cut off the stems using an ordinary sharp kitchen knife. Cut each of them into the slices of ½ inches each and that will leave you with two full cups of okras.

Next step is to cook the okras in water that you’ve added some salt to. Add the okra once the water is brought to the boil. Cover the pan and continue with the cooking up to 8 to 10 minutes.

Cooking

Once the okra is cooked it can be added to a variety of different dishes. As is usually the case, the key here is to use the vegetables so that they complement each other and add to each other’s flavors. Here’s a simple recipe of how to use okra to bring the best out of a common tomato.

– In a large skillet cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towels, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon; set aside.

-Add butter to drippings in skillet. Cook onion and garlic in hot bacon drippings and butter over medium heat until onion is tender.

– Stir in okra, salt, and pepper. Cook, covered, over low heat about 15 minutes or until okra is almost tender. Add tomatoes to skillet. Cook and stir about 3 minutes or until heated through. Drizzle with lime juice and sprinkle with crumbled bacon and basil. Makes 4 side-dish servings.

 

When Are Okra in Season in Texas?

One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas.

Nutrition

DV%

  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: 17.6 1%
  • Carbs: 3.9g 1%
  • Sugar: 1.9g 0
  • Fiber: 2g 8%
  • Protein: 1.5g 3%
  • Fat: 0.2g 0%
  • Saturated Fat: 0g 0%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 193mg 8%
  • Vitamin C 13mg 22%
  • Vitamin A 226IU 5%
  • Calcium 61.6mg 6%
  • Iron 0.2mg 1%
  • Potassium 108mg 3%
  • Vitamin E 0.2mg 1%
  • Vitamin K 32mg 40%
  • Vitamin B6 0.1mg 7%
  • Folate 36.8mcg 9%
  • Magnesium 28.8mg 7%
  • Phosphorus 25.6mg 3%
  • Manganese 0.2mg 12%
  • Copper 0.1mg 3%
  • Zinc 0.3mg 2%

Seasonality

When are apples in season in Texas?

  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec

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