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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Okra (also known as gumbo) is a tall-growing, warm-season, annual vegetable from the same family as rose of Sharon and hibiscus. The immature pods are used for soups, canning and stews or as a fried or boiled vegetable.

Gumbo is Swahili for okra. The recent upsurge in the popularity of gumbo (the soup) has also brought renewed attention to okra. Okra was brought to the new world by African slaves during the slave trade.

Okra is a powerhouse of valuable nutrients. Nearly half of the pod is 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.

Okra exudes a unique mucilaginous juice, which is responsible for its thickening power in the famous Louisiana Creole gumbo dish. Aside from gumbo, okra compliments tomatoes, onions and corn, shellfish and fish stock. Okra has a subtle taste, similar to the flavor of eggplant.

The preceding information came from selected portions straight from the www. It seems that I have eaten okra in one form or another as far back as I can remember and have grown this veggie since I started having a garden – back in 1971 or so. Our family most often eats okra breaded and fried or the small pods in boiled form. The boiled is the easiest to eat; it just slides down with hardly any effort.

This subject was brought up to tell a true story about an odd okra producing method. At least 20 years ago a friend of mine and member of a large family raised a big garden every year and always grew several long rows of okra. One year she was having a hard time getting the plants to bloom, and as you know, if they do not bloom one does not get the okra pods.

An old black woman of her acquaintance told her that she had to ‘whip’ the okra to make it produce. She was ready to try anything because she supplied her whole family with okra. She cut a small tree limb for a switch and went down between the rows of okra and whipped them good, cutting up the leaves and shocking the plants to a fare-thee-well. That year she had more okra produced than she ever had. Thereafter it was a regular practice – after the plants got up to a certain size – to go out and ‘whip’ the okra.

Now in case you are concerned about me whipping my okra and maybe getting reported for being cruel to plants, this is not one of the methods I use – just thought it was very interesting. Sometimes toward the end of the season I will cut off the top of the plant to encourage it to branch out but nothing worse than that.

As the plants start to produce, I do rejoice greatly with each veggie I pick and am awed greatly by these and other plants of God’s creation that produce things for us to eat. God is good, all the time. ec


Blogger Sue said...

I had never seen or heard of okra until we moved to Cyprus. We saw it fresh, and had no idea what it was. Then we saw they had it frozen as well. We did try it, but probably cooked it wrong since we didn't even know what it was called at first (except for the name in Greek, but it wasn't in our Greek-English dictionary). Eventually someone told us it was called okra. You've inspired me to think about it again, and maybe experiment with some different ways of cooking.

5/25/2006 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger Granny said...

when I lived in Arkansas, we were covered up with okra and zucchini. Everyone ws trying to give it away to everyone else

I like it although I didn't think I would. I'm trying to convince the girls. They'll eat it fried but when I try them on boiled, they say yucky.

So I hide it with the tomatoes and onions, smuggle it into the soup, etc.

It's expensive out here - go figure.

5/25/2006 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger JunieRose said...


I LOVE Okra, but don't have it nearly often enough!

I like it fried and boiled...My husband likes it in gumbo!

We usually have it when we attend my husband's family reunion in Alabama , last Saturday in July.

We have grown it here too, but we didn't plant anything this year except some cherry tomatoes and bell peppers!

:) I never heard of Whipping it to make it bloom! ...but I guess it makes sense-as it would put on new growth- just as it does if you cut it back!


5/25/2006 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

sue - Didn't know if okra would be over there or not - it does like hot weather and you folks do have some of that over there. :) I saw a few recipes so there must be many more.

granny - Even my small garden supplies plenty for fresh eating and more for freezing. When our two daughters were younger they would almost fuss over the last pods of boiled okra - all kids are different.

junierose - I need to find a gumbo recipe that's not quite so hot for the wife. Our reunion is the Saturday before the first Sunday in August - just about the same time as your husband's. I never saw this lady whipping her okra, but her sister verified what she had told me about it. ec

5/25/2006 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger Jayleigh said...

I had okra once and I thought it to be somewhat bitter. But you know... the Northerners probably have no clue how to cook it!

by the way, my old neighbor regularly beats the daylights out of his fruit trees with a baseball bat for the same reason as you stated here.... neat!

5/25/2006 11:20:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

jayleigh - It probably is not the most healthy way to eat it but my wife really does a good job on the battered and fried version of okra. I also enjoy it boiled in peas - blackeyes or crowders. ec

5/25/2006 11:35:00 PM  
Blogger itsboopchile said...

Okra, that is the one vegetable I hate!! My Yankee husband found it good. Go figure.

Betty G

5/25/2006 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I've heard of it, but that's about all -- until now anyway.

5/25/2006 11:50:00 PM  
Blogger Merle said...

Hi Me Eddie ~~ I have wondered what okra was like, and I have heard of
whipping something to make it grow,
so that was probably okra.
Thanks for the interesting and
informative post.
Thanks also for your comment and the
new word "stick-to-it-iveness". Aren't there enough in the dictionary?
Take care, Merle.

5/26/2006 12:52:00 AM  
Blogger mreddie said...

boopchile - The whole family here likes it, with a possible exception of a couple of grandkids.

AC - Just glad to be spreading okra word. :) I'm sure there are some things up there that I haven't tried. Something I also need to plant here is pomegranates - they grow in this area, but just haven't planted any.

merle - Surprisingly enough the word stick-to-it-ive is listed in my dictionary - it's an adjective and it's usage is stated as imformal. The word stick-to-it-iveness is listed as a noun. :) ec

5/26/2006 11:00:00 AM  

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