This year has been a challenge growing produce. First Mother Nature took her time warming up the soil so the seeds could germinate. Next, the rains washed out the seeds. Then the winds decided they wanted a piece of the action, twisting, breaking, or blowing the plants. And now we are dry and hot. The life of a Farmers’ Market grower is never a boring one.
I planted okra three times this year. First the seeds didn’t germinate, and then the rains washed out the seeds. Finally out of three long rows, I got three short rows. In those rows I have about eight to 10 plants that range from thigh high to waist high. Talk about a challenge harvesting the crop.
Okra grows in an elongated lantern shape. It is a fuzzy green colored and ribbed pod that is approximately two-seven inches in length. But most know this veggie by it’s’ rows of tiny seeds and slimy or sticky texture when cut open. Okra is a member of the cotton family. When one thinks of okra you think of the south or Creole/Cajun cooking. Okra is a powerhouse of valuable nutrients.It is a good source of vitamin C, low in calories, and is fat-free.
When buying fresh okra make sure that you select dry, firm, okra. The pods should be medium to dark green in color and blemish-free. If you don’t use the okra the same day you purchase it, place it in a paper bag in the warmest part of the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Severe cold temperatures will speed up okra decay. When preparing okra, remember the more you cut it, the slimier it will become. Here are a few ways to minimize the slime. Simply trim off the ends, and avoid puncturing the okra capsule. Avoid overcooking okra, this will also minimize the slime. Okra is commonly used as a thickening agent in soups and stews. But you can steam, boil, pickle, sauté or stir-fry the okra. But be sure to not use pans made of iron, copper or brass since the chemical properties turns the okra black. If you have never tried okra, come out to the Toledo Farmers’ Market on Friday’s from 5-7pm to purchase some okra.
See you at market.