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TEXARKANA, Ark. –
With a visit to the farmers markets or roadside stand, you will likely find okra.
It’s a popular vegetable we are accustomed to seeing during these hot summer months.
Many purchase it to make a favorite gumbo recipe, put in a summer salad, or make a
southern favorite, fried okra.
When buying fresh okra, look for firm, brightly colored pods under 4 inches long.
The pods must be harvested when they are very young. Larger pods may be tough and
fibrous. Avoid those that are dull in color, limp or blemished.
After your purchase, refrigerate unwashed, dry okra pods in the vegetable crisper,
loosely wrapped in perforated plastic bags. Wet pods will quickly mold and become
Okra has a short shelf life, usually only two or three days. When the ridges and tips
of the pod start to turn dark, use it or lose it. Once it starts to darken, okra will
Okra is a powerhouse of valuable nutrients, and contains only 25 calories per one
half cup. Nearly half of the nutrients are soluble fiber in the form of gums and
pectins. Soluble fiber helps to lower serum cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart
disease. The other half is insoluble fiber which helps to keep the intestinal tract
healthy, decreasing the risk of some forms of cancer, especially colorectal cancer.
Nearly 10% of the recommended levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid are also present
in a half cup of cooked okra.
Okra exudes a unique juice which is responsible for its thickening power in the famous
Louisiana Creole gumbo dish. Aside from gumbo, okra compliments tomatoes, onions and
corn, as well as shellfish and fish stock. It has a subtle taste, similar to the flavor
If you love okra, freezing is the best method for long-term home storage. Freeze only
young, tender okra. Okra must be blanched before freezing, as with all vegetables.
Unblanched okra will quickly become tough and suffer huge nutrient, flavor, and color
loss during freezing. Follow the procedure outlined below for successful home freezing.
It’s important to remember that freezing does not improve the quality of any vegetable;
you must start with fresh green pods. Okra that is at peak quality for eating is best
for freezing. Select young tender pods; wash and remove stems at the end of the seed
cells, being careful not to expose the seed cell. Water blanch small pods for 3 minutes.
Cool promptly in an ice bath for another 3 minutes and drain. Leave whole or slice
crosswise. Package in freezer quality containers or baggies, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
Seal container, label and freeze for up to one year.
Purchase fresh, locally grown okra at the market and try this recipe for roasted okra!
This is a change of pace from the normal fried okra. It still tastes good and is better
for your health. This recipe contains only 65 calories, 5 grams fat, 6 carbohydrates,
and 3 grams dietary fiber.
For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or
visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse.
By Carla DueCounty Extension Agent - FCSU of A System Division of AgricultureMiller County Cooperative Extension Service400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854 (870) 779-3609 email@example.com