Vibrant green pods hang like Christmas ornaments in the middle of summer, inviting you to explore their culinary potential – that’s Okra! With a rich history and diverse uses, Okra is more than just a garden plant, it’s a source of deliciousness and nutrition waiting to be discovered.
Okra, Abelmoschus esculentus, is a warm-season vegetable with tropical, West African, Ethiopian, and South Asian origins that arrived in North America in the 1600s. Belonging to Malvaceae, the mallow family, it is closely related to the all-beloved Hibiscus.
Okra is known for its distinctive ribbed and elongated green pods, which are the edible parts of the plant. These pods, when cooked, develop a unique mucilaginous texture. The plants themselves can reach 3-6 feet (0.9-1.8 meters) and produce hibiscus-like flowers, helping with identification. Blooming typically occurs in the warm summer months. The pods vary in size but are usually harvested when they are about 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) long. There are various cultivars of Okra, including spineless and red-tinged varieties. Also, as a crop, it thrives in any climate where corn will grow.