Okra is a member of the Mallow family and related to cotton, hibiscus and hollyhock.Â The word ‘okra’ is of Nigerian origin and translates to “lady’s finger’s”.Â Â It is aÂ perennial plant that grows up to 2 meters tall with heart shaped leaves and large, yellow flowers.Â What we eat is the seed pod which range in size from 3-10 inches in length and have a unique, sticky texture and sweet flavor.
Okra is grown throughout tropical and temperate regions of the world.Â Its beginnings were in Ethiopia and it was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians in the 12th century B.C.Â It then made its way through North Africa and the Middle East.Â The seed pods, or okra as we know it, were eaten as well as the seeds toasted and ground as a substitute for coffee.Â I think I’ll stick with the bean, myself.
After going through the Caribbean, Okra was brought to the US in the 1700s by slaves from West Africa and was introduced to Western Europe soon after.Â Today okra is popular just about everywhere- Africa, the Middle East, Greece, Turkey, India, the Caribbean and the US.Â
The best okra, like almost everything else, is best when it’s young & fresh.Â Okra becomes woody once it has aged and it then manufactured into paper & rope, interestingly enough.Â Once you purchase your okra fromÂ the local market, beÂ prepared to cook them within 2-3 days.Â Do not wash until you are ready to use, the okra will become slimy if you wash beforehand.Â Okra is slimy & sticky, there’s nothing you can do about it.Â Just celebrate it as you would your family, it’s great but they do have flaws.
Look out for the upcoming ‘Emogene Knows Best Fried Okra Recipe’ post.
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