Our okra this year is the best we’ve ever grown. The plants are nearly as tall as the corn and still growing. They’re cranking out lots of delicious pods every single day, with no end in sight.
Okra is a fascinating plant. It thrives in heat and drought and there are minimal problems with pests. As long as you keep the weeds out when it’s young and keep it picked every day, it’s very easy to maintain. There are many health benefits from eating okra. We shared some recently on our facebook page (if any of you facebookers haven’t “liked” our farm page yet, I recommend you do. )
Okra originated in Africa, where it is called “gumbo.” American slaves kept that name alive and most of us now recognize it as the name of a delicious deep South/Gulf Coast stew. When we were in Haiti I was excited to discover that in Haitian Creole “okra” is still called “gumbo.”
We were surprised to learn from Jude that okra is a regular part of Middle Eastern recipes. In Arabic it is called “bamya.” She prepared an okra dish for us using lemon, honey and garlic and it was extraordinary. Last night she prepared another okra dish, this one served over rice. It too was delicious and reminded me of gumbo. Learning that okra is so popular in Saudi Arabia led me to do a little research and I discoved that okra is featured in the food of many cultures: Asian, African, Vietnamese, Japanese and more. I had assumed it was just a Southern regional thing.
So now I’m thinking of significantly increasing our okra production next year and sourcing it to ethnic restaurants and grocery stores in the area–and of course to Southerners who, like me, enjoy our okra battered and fried.
In the meantime we’ll keep enjoying lots of fresh okra from the garden, sharing it with our friends and CSA members.
Okra grows very fast and once it’s more than a few inches long it becomes too tough and woody. So it must be picked every day.
So that’s enough about okra. Time to go pick it.