Okra is a flowering plant from the hibiscus family that yields edible green seed pods. Okra is similar in flavour to eggplant with a mild zesty sweet flavour profile.
Okra plants grow well in warm conditions. Okra pods appear as the plant flowers open. The pods should be picked within a few days and before growing larger than 6-8cm after which they become tough.
Okra is at its peak in terms of quality and availability in Summer and Autumn.
Pods are harvested while they are young and tender. Choose smaller pods, around the size of your index finger as younger pods have a lower gum content. Colour is a good indicator of freshness. Look for bright green pods with little or no dark spots. On fresh pods, the tip of the pod should snap easily.
Okra is a versatile vegetable that absorbs flavour well. It can be consumed raw, fried, stewed or pickled. Sliced into soups they create a thick texture, stir-fried they are fresh and crisp and absorb aromatic ingredients such as ginger and chilli, and braised with tomato onion and garlic they become soft and deliciously sweet.
Okra is an excellent source of vitamins C and K which are important for healthy immune function and effective blood clotting. It is also a good source of thiamine (vitamin B1), folate (vitamin B9) and vitamin B6. Okra also contains dietary fibre, which is important for a healthy bowel and keeps us feeling full for longer. Okra is nutrient dense and low in energy making it a healthy choice to add to main meals in summer and autumn.