benefits of Okra
Okra Gardening Experience
How to Freeze Okra
Health Benefits of Okra (Hibiscus esculentus)
A guy had been suffering from constipation for the past 20 years and recently from acid reflux. He didn't realize that the treatment could be so simple -- OKRA! He started eating okra within the last 2 months and since then have never taken medication again. All he did was eat 6 pieces of OKRA everyday. He's now regular and his blood sugar has dropped from 135 to 98, with his cholesterol and acid reflux also under control. Here are some facts on okra (from the research of Ms. Sylvia Zook, PH.D (nutrition), University of Illinois.
"Okra is a powerhouse of valuable nutrients, nearly half of which is soluble fiber in the form of gums and pectins. Soluble fiber helps to lower serum cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease. The other half is insoluble fiber which helps to keep the intestinal tract healthy, decreasing the risk of some forms of cancer, especially colo-rectal cancer. Nearly 10% of the recommended levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid is also present in a half cup of cooked okra.
Okra is a rich source of many nutrients, including fiber, vitamin B6 and folic acid. Here’re the following numbers from the University of Illinois Extension Okra Page. [Please check there for more details.]
Okra Nutrition (half-cup cooked okra)
* Calories = 25
These numbers should be used as a guideline only, and if you are on a medically-restricted diet please consult your physician and/or dietician.
Ms Sylvia W. Zook, Ph.D. (nutritionist) has very kindly provided the following thought-provoking comments on the many benefits of this versatile vegetable. They are well worth reading.
1. The superior fiber found in okra helps to stabilize blood sugar as it curbs the rate at which sugar is absorbed from the intestinal tract.
2. Okra's mucilage not only binds cholesterol but bile acid carrying toxins dumped into it by the filtering liver. But it doesn't stop there...
3. Many alternative health practitioners believe all disease begins in The colon. The okra fiber, absorbing water and ensuring bulk in stools, helps prevent constipation. Fiber in general is helpful for this but okra is one of the best, along with ground flax seed and psyllium. Unlike harsh wheat bran, which can irritate or injure the intestinal tract, okra's mucilage soothes, and okra facilitates elimination more comfortably by its slippery characteristic many people abhor. In other words, this incredibly valuable vegetable not only binds excess cholesterol and toxins (in bile acids) which cause numerous health problems, if not evacuated, but also assures their easy passage from the body.
4. Further contributing to the health of the intestinal tract, okra fiber (as well as flax and psyllium) has no equal among fibers for feeding the good bacteria (probiotics).
5. To retain most of okra's nutrients and self-digesting enzymes , it should be cooked as little as possible, e.g. with low heat or lightly steamed. Some eat it raw.
Cholesterol lowering effects of OKRA
Okra, a fruit high in water-soluble fiber (WSF) and widely consumed in Africa was investigated as a potential candidate to decrease cholesterol. The water-soluble fiber of some fruits and vegetables has been the focus of scientific research in relation to potential health benefits to cardiovascular diseases (CVD). The 3 weeks randomized crossover placebo study carried out among 30 healthy subjects concluded that Okra is an effective cholesterol lowering dietary adjunct. Okra might therefore be an interesting approach in the prevention of CVD risk factors as well as an opportunity for okra commercial challenge.
Source: Bangana, A., N. Dossou, et al. (2005). "Cholesterol lowering effects of Okra (Hibiscus esculentus) in Senegalese adult men." Annals of Nutrition and metabolism 18 (Suppl. 1): 199
Okra Against Heart Disease
For a triple-powered punch against heart disease, eat some okra. It strikes first with an antioxidant job to atherosclerosis – that dangerous hardening and clogging of your blood vessels. The top antioxidant in okra’s arsenal is vitamin C which the World Health Organization has linked to a reduced risk of fatal heart disease. One cup of sliced okra has more vitamin C than a whole tomato. Although you cannot rely on okra as a single source of this important vitamin, it makes an interesting and nutritious addition to your diet.
With a healthy dose of folate – about 40 percent of your daily requirement in each cup – okra then gives heart disease a left hook. Without this B vitamin, your body leaves behind loose amino acids, called homocysteine, when it metabolizes protein. Too much homocysteine built up in your blood damages your arteries and can lead to heart disease and stroke.
Okra gives a final knockout blow with its wealth of minerals – mainly potassium and magnesium. For lowering blood pressure, experts say eating potassium-rich foods may be as important as losing weight and cutting back on salt. And just the right amount of magnesium is especially important to seniors, who may not absorb it as well as they used to and may excrete more of it as waste. Magnesium helps control cholesterol and blood pressure, regulates your heart rhythm, and may even improve your odds of surviving heart disease and heart attacks.
Arms Against Osteoporosis
Do not forget okra when you’re planning a bone-building menu. It’s full of four osteoporosis-fighting nutrients – potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and beta carotene. People who eat foods high in these nutrients, according to research from the United Kingdom, may slow down the bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis. To top it off, a cup of okra gives you over 10 percent of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of the most famous bone-building mineral of all – calcium.
Some doctors used to think osteoarthritis (OA), the most common type of joint disease, was unstoppable, but now natural alternatives give new hope. Foods like okra contain both vitamin C and manganese, nutrients your body needs to build up joints and cartilage. Experts who looked at a variety of research suggest a diet high in vitamin C may slow down the development of OA. They also remind us that manganese is a necessary component of cartilage
Even though okra has a sticky reputation, do not judge this little vegetable until you have enjoyed it cooked properly. The chemical compounds that make okra gummy stay safely trapped inside each pod, unless you slice them. Steam whole pods or add them to stews for extra flavor. If you’re making a gumbo, cut up the pod and let the natural juices thicken your dish. For a different taste, slice okra raw into a salad or coat the little wagon wheels with cornmeal and fry them up crisp.
However, if you are going to fry it (and it is undeniably delicious prepared that way when rolled in cornmeal and salt), only extra virgin olive oil is recommended (this is NOT the unhealthy partially hydrogenated product found in processed foods or lard used by restaurants.).
For best cooking results, okra should be fresh. The pods should be small (3 inches or so long), or the okra becomes tough and stringy. If choose to use frozen okra, remove as much of the moisture as possible before cooking by spreading on a paper towel, or patting it dry after it thaws.
No matter how you eat your okra, remember two things. Rub off the outer fuzz with a towel if you do not like the roughness. Avoid cooking okra in pans made of brass, iron or copper, the pods will darken.
Okra Recipes Cont…
Okra soaks up the flavors of tomatoes, garlic, and herbs in this tantalizing dish. You may use frozen okra if fresh is unavailable.
In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add green pepper and sauté 3 to 4 minutes.
Add tomatoes and okra. Cover and cook over low heat 10 to 15 minutes, until okra is soft. Add oregano, thyme, salt and black pepper, to taste, and cayenne pepper, if using. Cook uncovered about 1 minute.
Courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research
Okra with Potatoes
This is a delicious simple North Indian recipe. You can leave out the hot pepper if you wish.
Wash okra, remove stems, cut lengthwise (about 4 pieces for each pod), then dry thoroughly on paper towels.
Slice onion thinly then separate into long pieces. Cut potatoes into cubes, about 1/2" (half inch) on side.
In large frying pan, heat oil on medium heat. Add onions and potatoes and stir until lightly browned. Add salt, turmeric and then the Okra pieces, plus the hot pepper. Cook uncovered. Stir occasionally until done (approx. 20 minutes). Serves four.
Whole Okra with Onions
This is another popular North Indian okra recipe. It is better to use fresh okra (not frozen), and must not be overgrown. This is best as a side dish, probably better with breads than with rice.
Wash okra, let dry thoroughly, or pat dry with paper towels. Remove stems, slit lengthwise once or twice (do not cut through, each pod must remain as one piece).
Chop ginger and garlic into small pieces. Slice (do not chop) the onion and separate into long strips or rings.
On medium heat, place 2 tablespoons oil in medium size non-stick pan or frying pan. Add cumin seeds. After approx. 30 seconds add garlic and ginger. When garlic is slightly browned (less than a minute) add onions. Cook for about 5 minutes until onions are lightly browned. Stir occasionally, do not overcook.
Add turmeric, pepper and mango powder, and stir to mix well. Remove onion/spice mixture from pan and save in a small bowl or plate.
In the same pan as above, add 2 tablespoons oil and okra and salt. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Lower heat slightly, cover the pan, and let cook for about 10 more minutes. Remove lid, stir and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until moisture is gone and okra is tender. Do not overcook, the okra should remain separate and not become mushy.
Finally, add the onion/spice mixture back with the okra, stir and serve while still warm. Serves four.
Take a medium size casserole dish, spray with pam spray. Layer a layer of fresh or frozen okra, add in order, layer of chopped onion, chopped bell pepper, can of relleno tomatoes with green chilies, cheddar cheese, layer of okra, layer of onion, layer of green pepper, can of stewed tomatoes, monterey jack grated cheese, [stuff 4 slices of bacon around edges of dish to season, but leave out if you’re vegetarian] salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 375 degs. (F). Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the pepper and onion are tender.
Only make one layer if you have a small family. The two layers work fine for a larger dish to take to family and gatherings. You can make this hotter by adding a little Tabasco. It is delicious.
Note: This recipe is provided by Maragret Webb of Crossville, Tennessee.
Grandma's Fried Okra and Potatoes
This is a dish for those who profess to hate okra! Not the deep-fried, batter-dipped variety, this is quick -- something you can keep an eye on while the rest of your supper cooks. And remember, the larger the okra pod, the tougher, so choose small pods.
Wash okra and cut off stem ends. Cut in 1/2-inch pieces. Peel potatoes and chop into 1/2-inch dice. Put okra and potatoes in large bowl. Add chopped onion to mixture. Sprinkle cornmeal, salt and pepper over mixture. Stir until cornmeal is evenly distributed throughout mixture.
Heat cooking oil in large skillet over medium heat (oil should be hot, but not smoking hot). Carefully spoon okra/potato mixture into hot oil. Fry, turning mixture occasionally, until potatoes are done and mixture is nicely browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Makes enough for 4 or 5 hungry people.
Arkansas Fried Okra
Sprinkle okra with salt, pepper, corn meal, and flour. Stir until well coated. Add onions and potatoes. Do not stir. In a cast iron skillet, melt margarine on medium heat. Add vegetables. Cook until tender and coating becomes crusty and well browned. Stir at intervals. Serve hot and eat it all because it is not good warmed over.
Place okra on a metal or wooden skewer through the side at the center of the pod. Brush with Olive Oil. Sprinkle on Cajun Seasoning.
Grill on charcoal or gas grill for 2 to 3 minutes then turn over and grill until turning brown.
Serve and eat while still warm.
Note: Using 2 skewers and building like a ladder works a lot better than trying to turn the okra on just 1 skewer. Make an individual ladder for each guest. (see picture above) Provided by Travis Hall from Belton, Texas.
Texas Fried Okra
1 pound okra
Wash okra, cut off stems and cut diagonally into 1/4 inch slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then dredge in cornmeal, tossing and turning the okra in the meal until thoroughly coated. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet, the size depending on the quantity of okra. Add okra and fry over moderate heat. When the pieces on the bottom are brown, turn with a spatula so the rest can brown evenly. When done, skim out with perforated spatula. Drain on paper before serving.
Serving Size : 4
[Note: Provided from "The Wide, Wide World of Texas Cooking"]
Smothered Okra and Tomatoes
2 pounds okra
Wash okra. Cut in 1/8 inch slices. Fry in an aluminum pot on medium heat in 2 tablespoons oil until okra is no longer sticky.
In another skillet, make a medium dark roux with 1 tablespoon oil and flour. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery. Simmer until tender. Add tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Add okra, seasoned with Creole Seasoning.
Simmer for 1 hour. Yields 6 servings.
2 Tbs ground cayenne
Place in jar and shake.
Cheaper than the prepared stuff if you already have the spices.
You can follow this fantastic recipe in a slow cooker with no oil.
Sauté the onion and green pepper with the cloves in water until soft. Remove the cloves. Put all ingredients in a slow cooker on high for 6 hours or low for 8-10 hours. Pretty simple! It's nice to come home at the end of the day and have everything ready.
Syrian-Style Okra with Dried Fruit
Stir-fry okra and onion with oil and water in a large frying pan for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add dried fruit, juices, and lemon. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring often. Serve warm or chilled. Serves 4.
Calories per serving, 267; fat, 1 gram; carbohydrates, 68 grams.
Bamia Ladyfinger Relish
"Ladyfingers" is the African/British name for okra and a fitting one for a delicate vegetable that we do not use nearly enough. Of course, the relish is best if made with fresh okra. Frozen (or even canned) okra is a compromise but it does make a new and different relish to add to your menu.
In an electric skillet or large frying pan Sauté: 1/2 cup Onion in 2 Tbs. Oil until slightly brown.
Add to oil other ingredients and sauté for 1 minute.
Add 2 pound Fresh OKRA, trimmed at ends and cut in 1 inch slices (or drain two 16 oz. cans of okra). Sauté for several minutes.
Add fresh tomato cut in thin strips. Sauté for 5 minutes.
Pack into hot sterile jar. Yield: 1 quart
Serve hot or cold as a side relish dish with other dishes including meats and fish.
Smothered Okra, Eggplant and Tomato
1. Mix seasoning spices in a small bowl.
2. Combine 1 cup of chopped onion, 1 cup finely chopped eggplant, 1 cup of okra (you can put in a food processor and pulse to chop finely)
3. Heat non-stick skillet or pot over high heat about 4 minutes. Add chopped vegetables, bell pepper and seasoning mix, stir and cook for about 5 minutes. Vegetables should stick to bottom of pan, then you unstick and stir them so that they caramelize (brown) a little but don't burn.
4. Stir in 1 cup of apple juice, stir to unstick from bottom, add 1 cup of tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally until most of liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes.
5. Add remaining onions, okra, eggplant and tomatoes (tomato sauce if used). Scrape to clear bottom and cook 10 minutes or more until eggplant is cooked.
Notes: In Oklahoma in the heat of August Okra is about the only vegetable that still grows (even the tomatoes stop setting fruit when it gets too hot). You can also use frozen okra. When well cooked, the gumminess goes away and its serves as a thickener to the dish. If you're wary of okra, you might want to reduce the total amount to 1 cup and let the eggplant and tomatoes dominate. You can use onion powder and garlic powder in the spice mixes, which is redundant when using real onions, but it actually imparts a different flavor. cooking the vegetables a long time in a non-stick skillet and letting them brown a little to caramelize and develop the flavors is worth, and pays to be patient.
Wash and Cut the Okra into round pieces.
Heat oil in a pan add in Mustard seeds. Add okra and
Stir. Mix spices and cover. Cook on low flame.
Enjoy as a side dish.
NOTE: Okra has a tendency to stick the pan. Adding Yogurt prevents it from sticking, gives a tart flavor and helps maintain the green color.
Okra Yogurt Salad
Wash and cut the Okra. Beat Yoghurt thick and add salt.
Heat a pan with oil, add mustard seeds and Okra. Cover & let cook a couple of minutes. Add Paprika and stir.
Cool and add to Yoghurt , Chill & serve .
Okra is also referred as lady's finger in English & Bhindi in Hindi
White vinegar (heated to boiling and poured over okra packed in jars)
Note: Provided by Mike Warren of San Antonio, Texas
Dill Pickled Okra
1. Scrub okra and pack whole pods into clean, hot jars. In each jar insert a few celery leaves, 1 garlic clove, peeled, and 1 sprig of dill.
2. Bring water, vinegar, and salt to a boil. Pour the boiling liquid over the okra.
3. Seal and process 10 minutes in simmering hot water.
4. Let okra stand for about 1 month before using.
Makes 4 pints.
Note: Recipe from the University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County.
Lady Bird Johnson's version of a traditional Texas pickle.
Clean okra and pack in clean canning jars.
Place one pepper and one garlic clove in each jar.
Combine remaining ingredients in stainless steel or other corrosion resistant pot and bring to a full boil. Pour over packed okra to 1/2 inch from top of jars. Cover jars with new canning lids.
Process in boiling water for ten minutes.
Eating tip: When eating okra pickles if you are going to take a bite out one rather than putting the whole thing in your mouth, bite the tip rather than the stem end. This avoids possible issues of spray
Wash okra, leaving top cam and removing excess stem. Combine vinegar, water and kosher salt. Bring to a boil. Drop okra into boiling mixture (and chilies if you're using fresh chilies) and bring to a rolling boil. Place in hot, pint-sized sterilized jars. Add one clove of garlic and, if you're using dried instead of fresh chilies, one or more dried hot chilies (depending on how hot you want them) to each jar. Seal while hot. Let stand 8 - 10 weeks before serving.
Spicy Pickled Okra
Wash okra. Trim stems; do not cut into pods. Pack okra into clean, hot pint jars; add hot pepper and garlic clove to each jar.
Bring remaining ingredients to a boil. Cover okra with hot liquid, filling to 1/2 inch from top. Adjust jar lids.
Process 10 minutes in boiling water. (Start to count processing time as soon as water in canner returns to boiling.) Remove jars.
Set jars upright on a wire rack or folded towel to cool. Place them several inches apart. Yield: 6 pints.
Wash the okra and pick it over, removing any pods that are hard and woody and any with soft spots.
Pack the okra into hot sterilized pint canning jars, stem ends down. Place the remaining ingredients into a nonreactive saucepan and bring them to a boil over medium heat.
Remove from the heat and slowly pout over the okra in the jars. Seal the jars according to proper canning procedures, and store them in a cool dark place for 4 weeks, then serve as a condiment.
Makes about 2 pints.
2 pounds fresh okra
Wash okra. Using manufacturer's directions, sterilize five one-pint jars along with lids and rings.
Pack okra in jars, alternating facing up and down until jars are full. Mix remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Pour over okra and seal. Let stand 3 weeks before serving. Chill before serving for added crispness.
Okra grows in warmer climate. You will not have luck to grow in places like Colorado Springs, Colorado at 7,000 feet or so. However, you may be able to grow in greenhouse anywhere. The personal accounts from various places will give you good idea about growing Okra and kind of climate it needs.
Okra vegetable Okra plant
·Mike Warren from San Antonio, Texas, writes:
I have grown it several years, both in-ground in the traditional soil garden and several times in hydroponic planters. Both plantings always reach 6 or 7 feet in height with some plants topping out at 9 to 10 feet and still producing. In fact the only thing that I figure stopped it growing was the fact that I could no longer easily harvest the okra pods without damaging the plants, so the pods matured and the plant stopped growing and died.
Clemson Spineless is the variety of Okra I have growing in my "in ground" garden as well as in my "hydroponic" garden, both out doors and in my back yard. The hydroponic okra only reached a height (plant height) of a little over 8 feet, but the in ground okra is over 9 feet and still growing (now approaching 10 ft, Sep. 10). I pickle most of it with a simple recipe: [see recipe for "Pickled Okra" by M. Warren below in Recipes section].
Picking every other day or so, I am able to get over a case (12 pint jars) of pickled okra on a weekly basis, which I am told is much better than store bought pickled okra. This is the first year I have grown a garden in this soil, so it is virgin. It has been often over 100 F degrees so I water on a timer 15 to 30 minutes 6 AM and 6 PM with weekly feedings (in line to the sprinkler) of Miracle Grow or Peters water soluble fertilizer (Peters is preferred as it also has micro-nutrients and is less expensive). Also, my okra may be just a bit taller than others in my neighborhood but I have seen several gardens within a 10 block radius of my house with 8 foot to 9 foot tall okra plants (by appearance, not measurement).
·Jim Fruth from Pequot Lakes, Minnesota, writes:
When I farmed in the Central Valley foothills of California, ten foot tall (and multi-branched) okra was common. I planted in trenches down the mountain and irrigated with a hose running from the top of the hill to the bottom. Today, as a Northern Minnesota farmer, I sell okra at my produce stand whenever I can coax a crop out of it. Jim proves that okra lovers are found everywhere.
·Heather Tutorow from Modesto, California has this to say:
My grandparents moved to Modesto, CA in 1950. My grandpa as long as I can remember has had at least an acre of okra. Right after they moved to Modesto my grandfather woke up one morning to find several Sheriff's officers tromping through the okra and stepping on the watermelon. He went out to see what was up. The Sheriff was convinced that my grandpa was growing pot in his garden and had never heard of, let alone seen okra. It took a couple cups of coffee and a few of last years pickled okras to send this law officer on his way. He later became a close friend of the family. Much like everyone who has ever crossed paths with grandpa. It just isn't summer without okra.
For those who think they can do better than the Sheriff, see the picture below. Might you be confused, also?
Start with freshly picked okra. Wash, cut the stems off, being careful not to cut into seed chamber, otherwise the seeds may spill out. Blanch by putting into rapidly boiling water for about 3 minutes. Remove and cool immediately by placing under cool running water. Pat dry, optionally make a cut lengthwise, pack in plastic bags, seal tightly and place in the freezer. Should keep well up to a year.
An alternate method is suggested by Pam from
If you're starting out, please check at your local garden center or hardware store. They usually have at least a couple of varieties suited to your local conditions. An old standby is "Clemson Spineless", available throughout the U.S.
The following is a list of some places that sell okra seeds. These are mainly for your information only.
Park Seed Company
1 Parkton Ave
Greenwood, SC 29647
2 Church Road
Milton under Wychwood, Oxfordshire
United Kingdom OX7 6LF
Tel: +44 (0)1993 830 399
Fax: +44 (0)1993 831 397
Ferry Morse Seeds
US company who sells through major stores like Lowe’s
Toll free ph 1-800-283-3400
Melissa's/World Variety Produce, Inc.
P.O. Box 21127
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Phone: (800) 588-0151
Namdhari Seeds(Indian varieties)
Uday Singh, Managing Director
Seed Savers(heirloom varieties)
3094 North Winn Road
Decorah, IA 52101
Tropilab(tropical plant seeds)
6428 18TH AVENUE NORTH
St. Petersburg, FL 33710–5528, USA
Phone: (727) 344 - 7608
E-Fax: (708) 575 1761
Toll free: (877)808-9410 (for ordering only)
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