Okra ( Abelmoschus Esculentus)| Top Details , Best Uses , Amazing Facts

Okra, also known as lady's fingers

If you’ve ever tasted okra or ladyfinger as it’s also known, you may have found the taste to be both surprising and unpleasant. But if you’re familiar with the plant that produces okra and understands how it’s prepared, you might find yourself with a new favourite side dish! This article tells you everything about this unique vegetable, including how to grow it and how to prepare it in recipes so that even your kids will be begging for more!

What are okra pods?

Okra pods are what most people refer to when they talk about okra. Lady’s finger is actually a variety of okra in which large pods are harvested and processed for use in stir-fry dishes and other similar recipes. To prepare ladyfinger okras, wash them thoroughly under running water and then gently remove each individual pod with your hands. This can be done by pulling at each end of a single pod and then gently easing it out of its sheath. 
Once you’ve removed all of your ladyfinger pods, slice or chop them up according to the recipe you’re preparing (e.g., slicing thin slices or chopping into small pieces). Cook these pieces until they become tender before adding them to your dish. Alternatively, you can trim away and discard some of their central stems; however, you should be careful not to waste any of their precious juice since it contains valuable nutrients. Ladyfinger pods have many health benefits: they promote weight loss, fight cardiovascular disease, and even lower blood pressure!
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Benefits of okra

Okra is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, which are essential to keeping your body running well. It has vitamin C and A, thiamine, and riboflavin (which help convert food into energy), vitamin B6 (which helps you maintain strong immune function), vitamin K (for proper blood clotting), and folate (for red blood cell production). In addition to being high in nutrients, okra is incredibly low in calories — only 16 per cup — but still very filling. 

This makes it a great choice for those looking to lose weight. Even better? Research published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that okra contains glycoproteins that may be able to fight viruses like HIV and herpes. The study notes that further research on eating raw or cooked okra would be necessary before applying these results to humans.
However, many people already enjoy incorporating raw or cooked okra into their meals regularly because of its health benefits. If you don’t like eating it plain, try preparing it lightly sauteed with olive oil or stewed tomatoes until tender-crisp. Add some chopped garlic toward the end of cooking if desired; cook until fragrant but not browned so that more nutrition stays intact!
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Growing Tips

1. Select a growing site with full sun and fertile soil rich in organic matter. Work in compost or well-rotted manure prior to planting. Space plants 12 to 18 inches apart, in rows 36 to 48 inches apart.
2. Use transplants rather than sowing seeds directly into the garden because they develop a better root system and faster growth that way, both of which are essential for healthy plant production.
3. Amend soil pH levels (using peat moss or ground limestone) and amend with phosphorus if needed.
4. Keep your okra bed evenly moist when plants are small; once mature, okra plants like their roots dry out some between waterings (although it’s not necessary to let them dry completely).
5. Pinch off flowers to encourage more vegetable production: instead of producing seed pods, your plants will send energy into developing more edible fruit instead. You can expect five to 10 weeks’ worth of harvest from each crop.


Cooking with okra pods

While many people know that okra is an edible plant, most don’t realize how versatile it is in cooking. While often used as a thickener for gumbo and stews or fried into fritters like hushpuppies, okra can also be cooked into soups and salads. Stewed until tender or pickled in vinegar with garlic and spices, it takes on a pleasingly slimy texture. 

For healthier ways to cook okra pods try grilling them whole with other vegetables or baking them whole (cut sides down) in a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes. You can even use ground-dried okra pods to spice up your favourite gumbo recipe!

Growing tips for okra plants

Lady Finger or Ladies’ Fingers, Okra plants (Abelmoschus esculentus) require a long season for fruiting and should be started indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep in well-drained seed starting mix. Grow in full sun. 

Sow three seeds per cell 1⁄2 inch apart and thin to one plant per cell after germination. Once true leaves appear use bottom heat if available to increase germination rates. Keep soil temperature 75-85 degrees until germination. We recommend growing lights or indoor greenhouse locations with supplemental lighting during the early stages of growth when natural light is insufficient. Transplant into a garden at least 14 days after the last frost once night temperatures remain above 50 degrees minimum.


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