Okra

I saw okra seed in the Kitazawa seed catalog and it made me chuckle.  I used to think okra was uniquely Southern.  But actually,even though it originated in Africa, it’s a popular vegetable across the globe now.

When our Saudi Arabian intern Jude was here she taught us some delicious Middle Eastern recipes for okra.  And, as its inclusion in the Kitazawa catalog shows, okra is a popular vegetable in Asia as well.

Here in the South okra is usually fried, boiled or cooked in gumbo.   In fact, gumbo gets its name from the African word for okra.  When we were in Haiti I was thrilled to discover that “gumbo” is still their word for okra.

As we have learned, however, there are lots of other delicious ways to prepare it as well.  In Asia it is often pickled or stir-fried.  Pickled okra is hard to beat.

Okra is a great hot-weather crop.  It requires little water and thrives in the sultry heat of summer.  It’s a very fast-growing plant so it has to be picked at least once every other day.  If the pods become too large they get woody.

SAMSUNG

Pretty blossoms too. This is Clemson Spineless, our preferred variety.

Burgundy okra.  It's smaller, and when cooked it is the same as green-pod okra.

Burgundy okra. It’s pretty, but smaller, and when cooked it is the same as green-pod okra.

It’s been 16 months or so since I had any okra (not that I’m counting).  We planted a big garden of it last year, but it was destroyed by deer and we didn’t harvest any.  So the first okra of 2015 is going to be a long-anticipated treat.