Okra is that interesting green vegetable with fuzz and an interior gel. It pairs well with any tomato-based dish, especially when stewed, but can accompany a range of recipes.
Okra has long been a popular vegetable in the Southern U.S., , the Caribbean, and Middle Eastern countries. It’s identified most often as a fuzzy pod with edible seeds that when cut contains a glutinous – or slimy - substance. It is this “gel” that acts as a thickener in such dishes as gumbo, Brunswick stew, and pilaus. Okra is also delicious fried, steamed, or pickled.

In some regions, okra is known as “lady’s fingers,” “bindi,” or “gumbo.”

Buying Tips

Look for younger okra that is no longer than 3-4 inches. Larger, mature pods are extremely tough. Younger pods will also contain less gel. Skin should be medium to bright green with no black spotting.

For year-round use, purchase okra canned or frozen.

Storage Tips

Refrigerate in an open plastic or paper bag for 2-3 days. It has a short shelf life, regardless of freshness.

Okra freezes well, but blanching (2-4 minutes in small quantities) is recommended or the pods may become tough and discolored. For later frying, skip the blanching. Slice and coat in cornmeal.

Usage Tips

The gel in okra is virtually unavoidable. Searing or steaming the pods before slicing may help.

When cooked in metal pots, okra can turn gray or even black. It is not a harmful change, but not very appetizing. Use porcelain or heatproof glass.

Okra pairs especially well with tomatoes and eggplant.

When cooking whole, remove the stem, but do not cut into the seedbed. As it cooks, the pod will become soft and tender.

Cornmeal is the preferred coating for frying, although flour works well.

One pound will yield about two cups of sliced okra.

When using canned or frozen okra, let thaw or dry on paper towels to remove excess moisture.

Try one of our favorite okra recipes:

Cocktail Okra
Spicy Black Bean Soup