Okra, gombo, okra, ladies' fingers - all these are the names of an annual plant from the family of mallow. Its scientific name is Hibiscus esculentus, which means edible hibiscus. And she really lives up to her name, being a delicious vegetable with many useful properties.
Appearance, origin and distribution
Okra flowers, reminiscent of tulips, have a tart smell. An almost two-meter thick and fluffy stem and large leafy leaves are visible from afar. But they appreciate this plant for its delicious fruits that look like pods of hot pepper or zucchini.
Their taste resembles green peas. They are collected a few days after the appearance, because later they lose their wonderful taste.
No one knows exactly where the plant comes from. The most common is wild okra in western Africa and in India. Arabs brought it to Europe many centuries ago. It is widely distributed now in the Stavropol, Krasnodar Territories, Ukraine and Transcaucasia.
Interesting to know: A.P. Chekhov grew an edible plant in his estate Melikhovo.
Okra is rich in iron, calcium, potassium, vitamins C, B6, K and A. Due to the high content of folic acid, the vegetable is useful for the unborn baby in early pregnancy, when the rudiments of the fetal nervous system are formed. In addition, the fruits of okra are rich in vegetable oil, not inferior in quality to olive, and protein.
A dietary product containing only three dozen calories is useful for people with diseases of the stomach and overweight. The beneficial properties of okra help fight tonsillitis, depression, fatigue, and asthma attacks. In addition, okra is known as an effective remedy:
- with atherosclerosis, because strengthens the walls of blood vessels and leaches excess cholesterol;
- with constipation - reduces bloating and pushes food waste through the intestines;
- with a stomach ulcer - promotes healing of the mucosa;
- with diabetes - normalizes sugar.
Ocra properties are also used in colorectal cancer, it is a preventive measure against cataracts. It is prescribed to people who have undergone heavy surgery.
Okra beans replace coffee.
Selection and storage
Young plant pods up to 10 cm long are suitable for food. They should be bright green, not damaged, without mold spots, elastic to the touch. Occasionally, pods of dark or reddish colors can be found.
Tender okra spoils very quickly. It is stored in the refrigerator for no more than 3 days. In this case, it is worth putting the vegetable in a paper bag. However, in a hermetically sealed vessel in a dark place you can keep okra for up to three years.
Landing and care
An exotic plant with very useful properties is unpretentious, even inexperienced vegetable growers can grow it. Okra seeds retain their germination for no more than two years. But in our non-hot climate they are usually not planted in open soil, but seedlings are obtained from them. To grow okra, the following is required:
- seeds slightly treated with potassium permanganate are planted in deep (up to 30 cm) containers filled with humus mixed with peat;
- seed planting depth should be 2-3 cm. These requirements are related to the southern origin of plants, where they need to have a deep root system to survive, because moisture occurs in arid areas at great depths;
- for the same reason, the planted seeds are generously watered, and then the containers with them are covered with a film;
- these heat- and photophilous plants also need to be maintained under the film at a temperature of at least 20 degrees and additional illumination approximately 10 days after planting. At this time small sprouts already appear;
- okra does not require watering more often than after 5 days, but daily it is required to remove the film to air the seedlings.
The best time for planting seeds is the end of March or the beginning of April. Then, before being placed in open ground in mid-May, the okra manages to rise by 15-20 cm.
Young ladies' fingers should be planted on well-lit hills. Before flowering, the plant does not need special fertilizing, but from the middle of June it has to be “fed” once every two weeks.
Do not forget that this vegetable crop is growing rapidly, so the seedlings need to be placed no closer than 45 cm to each other. Weed control, which does great damage to immature sprouts, is especially important in the first weeks of their growth.
Accustomed to dry soils, Okra does not require abundant and frequent watering.
The okra emasculates the soil in one season, so every year you need to change the areas for planting it, feeding the soil well in the same place where it grows. Planting in ridges after potatoes, radishes, and cucumbers is useful for this plant.
The benefits of okra (video)
Okra Cooking Tips
It is best to cook soups and sauces from okra, as it has a lot of mucous substances, leading to thickening of dishes. Vegetable pods are cooked quickly, and so that they do not fall apart, it is better to introduce them into the dish closer to its readiness, and then try not to mix it.
Cooking with okra is better in non-metallic dishes, otherwise they may darken. The pleasant taste of the vegetable is emphasized by lemon juice or vinegar, red pepper, curry, garlic, onions, basil, marjoram, thyme.
Okra is combined with many products, giving them piquancy, tastes like eggplant, but without its harsh taste. It can be pickled, stewed, boiled, fried, salted, frozen, dried and even sugared.
Here is a description of some of the okra dishes.
Chicken breast with okra
Sauté fried chicken pieces in gravy prepared in the following ways:
- fry onions, carrots, tomatoes together, before peeling, okra and bell pepper for 15 minutes, without disturbing them, add finely chopped garlic to the sauce one minute before being ready;
- stew okra in white wine with olive herbs.
Pork or beef meat is cut into pieces and laid out on a layer of okra, placed in a refractory container. A layer of vegetables is placed on top, which are filled with such sauces of your choice:
- tomato juice with basil, garlic and thyme with oregano;
- soy sauce with garlic and ginger.
All this is stewed in the oven, then served with rice.
Bhaji - Indian Vegetarian Appetizer
- fry onions, garlic and ginger in a pan;
- then a little water is added there, where the mixture is stewed for 10 minutes;
- it is ground in a blender. The resulting mass is languished with tomato paste, turmeric, salt and water to an average density of 10 minutes;
- okra pods cut into two-centimeter pieces are boiled and fried for 5 minutes;
- then stew for another 5 minutes in the previously prepared sauce;
- the final touch - spices (chili, coriander) are added to the dish, everything is mixed and removed from the heat;
- before serving, the dish is poured with lemon juice.
Everything you need to know about okra (video)
Okra, or okra is a vegetable crop that has many useful properties and a very pleasant taste. It is used for many diseases. Exot is easily grown in the garden using seedlings. Okra flowers delight with a pleasant milky tinge and wonderful aroma. Dishes from okra diversify the table with their exoticism and unusualness. They are low in calories. Good for people who are overweight or after a serious illness. There is still much to say about the benefits of okra, but it is better to try it yourself.