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Have you had a bounty of okra in your garden this summer? My co-workers have had great luck with the okra they grew – evidently the plants like the heat and extra rain we had in Southern Ohio. Because of their bountiful okra harvests, we have had a number of discussions of recipes and how to prepare this vegetable that you may not be as familiar with as others. Here are some okra basics.

Selection – okra pods are best when they are small to medium in size, about 2 to 4 inches long and bright in green color. Okra plant

Storage – the pods can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. For best storage, refrigerate unwashed (but dry) okra pods in a vegetable crisper. They may be loosely wrapped in a perforated plastic bag. The ridges and tips of the pods will turn dark, which indicates deterioration and need for immediate use.

Freezing for Longer Storage – By water blanching okra for 3 minutes you can hold the quality when freezing. Start by carefully washing, then lower okra into a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes. Use a metal blanching basket if you have one. Immediately plunge blanched okra into an ice bath for 3 minutes and carefully dry. Package into freezer containers and date.

Okra can also be pressure canned, follow this link to more information on that process OKRA.

Nutritional Value – 7 okra pods = a 25 calorie serving. They contain no fat or cholesterol, and are very low in sodium. They have 6 grams of carbohydrate and 3 grams of fiber. You can also get 30% of your Vitamin C for the day, as well as some folate, and magnesium with okra.

Skillet of roasted vegetables with okra, tomatoes, onions, and beansHow to Prepare – while there are a number of ways to prepare okra, several popular choices are roasted, grilled, or with tomatoes. Here is a link to several from the USDA Mixing Bowl – go.osu.edu/okra. The Italian Vegetable Medley with Okra, the Spicy Okra, or the Veggie Stir-Fry with Okra look like great ways to clean out the end of summer produce in your garden or to use up wonderful Ohio produce from the Farmer’s Market. Leave a comment below to let us know your favorite okra dish, especially something creative like the roasted okra, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and beans with olive oil and mixed herbs that my co-worker fixed this week.

Sources:

National Center for Home Food Preservation, https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_04/okra.html.

USDA Mixing Bowl, http://go.osu.edu/okra.

Michigan State University Extension, http://msue.anr.msu.edu/resources/michigan_fresh_okra

Photo credit: Debra Calvin, Program Assistant, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer:  Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County.

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