Sunday, August 16, 2009

Red Velvet Okra

Time to pick the okra. Okra grows fast -- if you don't pick at least every other day, the pods get too large and become woody rather than tender.

Like this.

The flowers are lovely, hinting at okra's kinship with hibiscus flowers -- and cotton. Okra (hibiscus esculentus) is thought to have originated in Africa -- both the word okra, as well as the word gumbo can be traced back to African languages.

This is a nice size -- it would be lovely steamed and buttered. Many folks (not me) object to okra's mucilaginous quality and prefer it cut up, rolled in cornmeal, and fried or used as a component of soup, okra and tomatoes, or gumbo.

It's an excellent thickener for soups (and in my opinion preferable to the rabbit droppings that some Native Americans are said to have used for thickening.)

Green okra is the norm but I couldn't resist the picture on the Red Velvet Okra seed packet. These pods are beauties and even the ones that I allowed to get too big will be fine in soup.

Sad to say, once blanched. the lovely red changes to a dull green. It' s the same with purple asparagus, cauliflower, beans . . .

Our family nickname for okra . . .

Posted by Picasa


Margie said...

Hi Vicki, the okra looks so pretty in your garden, I see you had some help checking the crop! Thank you for the information about its origins, history and harvesting. I will suggest to Mr. Margie that we grow it next year. I do love to eat it. Hugs, Margie.

Carol Murdock said...

Hey, Vicki...I like the looks of that red okra, have never tried it.
I put a gallon of sliced up yesterday.I wasn't aware of it's origin, but I'm not surprised as I love most foods that came from there! :)

Tammy said...

Thanks for the history on okra and the lovely pictures. I had no idea the flowers were so pretty. I've never grown okra and only eaten it a few times. I would definately agree that it is probably preferable to rabbit droppings as a thickener. ;-)

Stella Jones said...

So that's what the plant looks like! Over here in England, most people don't like it. I've never cooked it. Asian people use it more than white, English people. Maybe they know what to do with it! I love the flowers, they are gorgeous. I always know when the hibiscus is flowering, that summer is coming to an end! Thank you for showing us these pictures. They are wonderful.
Blessings, Star

Vicki Lane said...

It's my impression that okra is more appreciated in the South (US) than in other regions of the country. It IS slimy -- no way around that. But so are oysters.

I doubt anyone would object to it in vegetable soup.

Don't know how it would prosper in the UK or Ireland -- it loves the heat.

Helen in SC said...

I have never seen red okra, only the green that we had in our garden when I was a kid. Have to admit I'm not a fan of the slimy version, but will eat it in soup or fried. And I will eat oysters but only when roasted dry or in oyster soup. My creepy food threshold is pretty low.

Victoria said...

"Ogres" is the perfect name for it, lol! I never could develop a taste for it, no matter which way it's cooked. The flowers and the red pods are beautiful, though.

Vicki Lane said...

Hi, Helen -- I learned to eat whole steamed okra by just letting it slide down my throat. As a child, my mother called them 'little fishes' and she passed this trick of swallowing them whole on to her children. Now I actually like them. But then I have an extremely high tolerance for creepy foods -- even ogres.

Yes, Victoria -- if it weren't for the bug-chewed leaves, these would be lovely ornamental specimens.