Okra (okra, gombo, abelmosh, lady's fingers, edible hibiscus) in our country is a little-known vegetable. But it has an ancient origin. Currently, this plant is cultivated and widely consumed in the countries of America, Asia, Africa.
It is known that the great Russian writer A.P. Chekhov grew okra on his personal plot. There is a version that he called these velvet fruits “ladies' fingers”.
What it is
Edible hibiscus is an annual herbaceous plant of the family malvaceae. In height, this bush reaches 40-50 cm, rarely more. The fruits of this vegetable have the appearance of a box, which resembles a multifaceted pod covered with fluff. In a cross section, the pods are in the shape of a five-pointed star. Many seeds ripen inside the capsule. Ripe fruits (more than 5 days) become fibrous and tasteless, so they are not consumed.
Ocra pods taste something like average between asparagus beans and zucchini or young eggplants.
Okra is a healthy vegetable, which, due to its piquant taste, can be consumed both fresh and independently in other dishes. The pulp of the pods contains up to 90 g of water, the composition of the dry residue of the pulp includes proteins (up to 2 g), carbohydrates (up to 4 g), mucus, vitamins, macro- and microelements. There is little fat in this vegetable - up to 0.1 g.
The main part of okra carbohydrates is represented by dietary fiber - water-insoluble fiber (cellulose), the content of which in 100 g of fruits reaches 15-16% of the daily need for it.
Okra mucous membranes are represented by complex carbohydrates and glycosaminoglycans (protein-carbohydrate compounds). Okra also contains a lot of chlorophyll, a compound that is similar in chemical composition to human hemoglobin.
The pulp of edible hibiscus pods includes vitamins and minerals, while many of them in 100 g of fruits are contained in concentrations that are significant for the functioning of the human body (in% of the daily requirement):
Edible hibiscus is a source of glutathione - a powerful antioxidant. This protein substance is synthesized in the human liver from glycine, glutamic acid and cysteine, and also enters the body from the outside with food. Studies conducted by the British Cancer Institute have found that there is an inverse proportion between the level of glutathione in the blood and the frequency of detection of cancers of various organs. That is, the higher the concentration of this antioxidant in the blood of the studied group, the less cancer patients among them.
What is okra?
Okra is a pyramidal plant belonging to the family of the Malvaceae. Externally, the vegetable is similar to a pod of green chili pepper. Okra is grown and used in cooking in southern Europe, America and Asia. It is most popular in West Africa and India. Most of the species of this plant grow here, and it is these regions that are considered the birthplace of the vegetable.
Pictured are the fruits and okra flower
The benefits of okra
Okra fruits contain:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin PP
Okra is a leader in fiber maintenance. 100 grams of this vegetable contain 3.5 grams of dietary fiber, that is 16% of a person's daily requirement. The coarse fibers of the eye, entering the body, are not absorbed, but, swelling in the stomach, absorb carcinogens, toxins and other harmful substances and remove them from the body.
Fiber contained in the okre improves the motility of the gastrointestinal tract, serves as a good prevention of constipation and flatulence.
Photo okra plants
Due to its properties and high content of glutathione antioxidant, which is effective in combating free radicals, in America, okra is considered the most effective among anti-cancer products. A decoction of okra is recommended as a prevention of cancer.
Okra is recommended for people who have undergone surgery, as it perfectly restores strength.
Currently, doctors have discovered another property of okra - it helps in the fight against impotence in men.
Okra regulates blood sugar and is an ideal vegetable for weight loss, the prevention of depression, asthma, atherosclerosis, stomach ulcers.
The caloric content of okra is only 31 kcal per 100 g of product.
Why is okra harmful?
At the moment, there are no contraindications for the use of okra except for individual intolerance to the vegetable. It is only necessary to carefully approach the processing of vegetables - so large pods can have hot spots that need to be thermally processed. It is also necessary to clean the hairs (they can cause an allergic reaction).
Choosing a quality vegetable
When buying okra, pay attention to the appearance of the fetus. The length of the pods should be 5-10 cm. Choose shorter vegetables. The fruit should have a bright green color and be firm to the touch. Be sure to check the vegetable for damage and mold stains. A quality vegetable should also break easily when bent.
In the photo the fruits of okra
Overripe vegetables have a leathery shell. These are not worth buying, as they are not suitable for cooking.
For the organs of the gastrointestinal tract
Due to the presence of a large amount of mucus, cellulose, B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, zinc, this vegetable favorably affects the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract:
- envelops mucous membranes,
- heals erosion and ulcers,
- stimulates mucosal cells to recover,
- normalizes the production of digestive juices,
- exhibits bactericidal and antiseptic properties,
- absorbs toxic substances and waste in the intestines,
- absorbs water, increasing in size and accelerating the excretion of feces from the intestines,
- interferes with the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine,
- It is a vitamin-mineral medium for normal intestinal biocenosis.
Moisturizing the mucous membranes and softening the stool, okra with regular use prevents the formation of cracks in the rectal mucosa.
Glutathione, contained in okra, protects liver cells from the toxic effects of alcohol, nicotine, potent substances, certain medications (cytostatics, antibiotics, psychotropic, hormonal substances, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
For the respiratory system
Edible hibiscus contains such a balance of mucus, vitamins and minerals, which allows its fruits to have a positive effect on the respiratory system when ingested or in the form of various medicinal potions:
- relieve inflammation
- inhibit the development of pathogenic microflora,
- moisturize the mucous membranes and retain moisture in them,
- reduce sensitization of the upper respiratory tract,
- inhibit swelling of the mucous membranes.
The high content of ascorbic acid in the pods of this plant helps to increase local bronchopulmonary immunity.
For the circulatory system and metabolism
The substances contained in okra have a double hypocholesterolemic effect (prevents the absorption of cholesterol from the intestine and promotes its excretion into the intestine with bile). The regular presence of the fruits of this plant in the diet affects the composition of the blood, the work of the heart and blood vessels:
- improves rheological properties of blood,
- normalizes microcirculation in the capillary network,
- increases the level of hemoglobin in the blood,
- prevents the formation of atherosclerotic plaques,
- reduces the permeability of the walls of blood vessels,
- increases the elasticity of the vascular walls.
The pulp of edible hibiscus includes substances that affect the metabolism in the body:
- reduce blood glucose, than normalize carbohydrate metabolism,
- participate in protein and fat metabolism,
- contribute to the deposition of calcium in the bones.
Planting and growing okra
Okra is an annual herbaceous plant with a thick and branched stalk and light green leaves hanging down. The height of an adult plant reaches 40 cm or more.
The okra has large yellow-cream flowers located in the axil of the leaves on the pedicels. Fruits are also formed here.
It needs fertile and well-fertilized soil. Fertilizers for okra are introduced in the fall during digging. Compost, humus and superphosphate are used.
Okra is grown through seedlings. Since she does not like picking, plants are immediately planted in separate containers at the beginning of May. Seeds before planting are soaked in water for a day. The temperature in the room where seedlings are growing should be maintained at a level of 20-25 degrees.
In the photo okra seedlings
Okra is planted in a greenhouse or greenhouse 45 days after planting seedlings. When planting, they maintain a distance of 30-60 cm between plants (for tall varieties - 50-90 cm).
Harvest okra from August to November.
Video "Growing okra"
Plant care activities include:
- regular watering
- weeding weeds and hilling bushes,
- plant nutrition
- before flowering, okra is fertilized with mineral fertilizers,
- after the appearance of the fruit, potassium nitrate is used.
How to use okra in cooking?
Okra can be consumed raw, and prepared using various methods: pickle, salt, fry, stew, steamed, deep-fried, added to soups and salads. It tastes like eggplant to taste. Frozen okra is also used in dishes, which practically does not lose its properties.
Pictured okra with vegetables
Pictured meat soup with okra
Okra can be eaten raw
They are also used for food in young leaves - in soups and salads. And from the roasted seeds of okra, a bitter drink is made that tastes like coffee, but does not contain caffeine.
From the seeds of okra, an oil with a delicate taste, similar to olive and rich in Omega-6 unsaturated fats, is also obtained. And immature seeds are canned; they taste like green peas.
Okra glutathione is involved in the detoxification of methylglyoxal, a metabolic byproduct that has a toxic effect on the cells of the human body. It protects immune cells (lymphocytes) from free radicals and lipid peroxidation products. Another positive property of glutathione is that it helps to restore other antioxidant substances - vitamins A, E, D, C.
It is scientifically proven that such antioxidant properties of glutathione reduce the likelihood of cancer.
With diseases of the digestive system
Dishes from okra are recommended for regular use with:
- peptic ulcer of the stomach and duodenum,
- acute and chronic hepatitis,
- hepatic degeneration (fibrosis, fatty hepatosis),
- biliary dyskinesia,
- hemorrhoids and fissures of the rectum.
Okra restores damaged liver cells, showing hepatoprotective effect. The fruits of this vegetable improve the condition of the liver after courses of chemotherapy, antibiotics, and serious infectious diseases.
The use of okra in its raw form or dishes from it is also useful for diseases of the heart and blood vessels, impaired microcirculation in the brain, diabetes mellitus and diabetic microangiopathies.
The antioxidant properties of glutathione contained in edible hibiscus are successfully used in complex treatment:
- autoimmune diseases
- Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease,
- chronic fatigue syndrome
Edible hibiscus is indicated for men with problems with potency of various origins, prostatitis, after suffering a sexually transmitted disease.
Use in Dietetics
Dishes prepared from low-calorie okra are recommended by nutritionists for use:
- wishing to normalize and maintain their weight,
- for obesity
- people with a sedentary lifestyle,
- mental workers who usually lead a sedentary lifestyle.
Due to its high fiber content, okra satisfies the feeling of hunger between meals. Eating 1-2 vegetable pods half an hour before a meal helps to reduce the size of a serving of food. It is also convenient to take these fruits with you on the road or to work and use them as a snack. Okra fiber prevents constipation in dieters.
Use in cosmetology
The use of okra fruits in food improves the condition of the skin, hair, nails. This property of the fruits of edible hibiscus, according to some historians, was known even at the court of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra, in whose diet this vegetable was daily present.
Today, various cosmetics for skin and hair are made on the basis of the pulp of its fruits.
For all its usefulness, okra fruits can cause a severe allergic reaction. The pulp of the fruit does not contain allergens, but they are found in the hairs with which the pods are covered. Contact of unprotected skin with the fringe of okra fruits can lead to skin itching and rash, and in some cases to anaphylactic reactions.
Allergies can be avoided if you get rid of these hairs before using the vegetable or during its processing. In order to remove them, it is enough, holding the stalk, to wipe the pod with a hard rag.
There are no other contraindications to the use of okra fruits inside or for external use of its pulp remedies.
Okra fruits are often used in the cuisines of Asia and Africa, less often - in Western Europe and America. In our country, the fruits of edible hibiscus are rarely used for culinary purposes. But it is in vain.
The pods of this vegetable have a piquant taste, which, with various cooking methods, acquires one or another refined notes. Okra can be consumed fresh or cooked:
- fry, including deep-fried,
- put out
Okra goes well with rice, vegetables, fish, meat, mushrooms, spices, herbs, soy sauce. In soups, okra is capable of secreting a lot of mucus, so the first dishes from it are often included in the diet of the medical nutrition of people with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract along with oatmeal or other mucous dishes. So that mucus does not stand out from the fruits, it is necessary to add acids (vinegar, lemon juice, tomato paste) to dishes from okra.
Gombo coffee is prepared from roasted ripe seeds of edible hibiscus in Asia. A coffee drink brewed from these seeds has a coffee-like taste and aroma. However, it is caffeine-free, so even children can drink it.
How to choose and store
On our shelves a few years ago it was rarely possible to meet such a product as okra. Today, this vegetable began to appear in large supermarkets and markets. To purchase truly healthy and fresh vegetables, you must:
- Inspect them. The pods should be up to 10 cm long and be juicy green in color, without yellowness and darkening. Some varieties of okra may have a reddish tint.
- Touch them. Fruits should be elastic and have soft hairs on the surface.The hard, smooth peel of the pod speaks of its overriding.
Keep fresh pods in the refrigerator in the vegetable compartment for no more than 3 days.
Okra (edible hibiscus, okra) is an exotic vegetable that is rapidly gaining popularity in our country. In addition to its spicy taste, the fruits of edible hibiscus have a lot of useful properties, which successfully allows you to use it not only in cooking, but also in medicine.
Okra improves the functioning of the heart and blood vessels, normalizes digestion, and helps with respiratory diseases. Folic acid contained in the pods of okra, when used in the first trimester of pregnancy, contributes to the proper development of the nervous system of the fetus. The presence of this vegetable in the daily diet is indicated for men with impaired potency.
Glutathione, which is present in okra fruits, is a powerful antioxidant that, with the regular use of this vegetable in food, can reduce the likelihood of cancer.
Cosmetics for external use (hair balms, skin creams) are made from okra pods.
The fruits of edible hibiscus are used raw, in soups, main dishes, appetizers, preservation and pickles.
So that the vegetable does not cause allergic reactions, when processing the fruit for further use inside or for external use, it is necessary to get rid of the hairs on their surface.
The spread of okra
The plant is widespread in America, Asia, southern Europe and, of course, in its homeland - in Africa. For Russia, this is still a rather rare vegetable crop. Small plantations are grown in the Krasnodar Territory and in the Stavropol Territory, in the rest of the territories only by amateur gardeners.
Okra, planted in rows in the southern regions of Russia
Okra is a vegetable herbaceous annual of the mallow family. The height of the shrub depends on the species and can be 30–40 cm in low-growing plants and can reach two meters in tall varieties. Due to the branched thick stem and pubescent large leaves of a dark green color, the plant has a rather attractive appearance. Single large blooms of cream or milk color appearing in the leaf sinuses add decorativeness to the entire shrub. The fruits are similar in structure to pepper pods - green pubescent boxes with many seeds, in some varieties they can be quite large - more than 20 cm long.
Flowering and fruiting of okra occur simultaneously
The use of okra
They grow okra mainly as a vegetable crop. Due to its neutral taste, reminiscent of asparagus beans, it is widely used in cooking. Due to the high content of protein, vitamins, macro- and microelements, as well as low calorie content and the ability to lower cholesterol, okra is also used as a dietary product. Plant seeds are rich in oil, similar in value to olive. The fruits also contain mucous substances with enveloping properties, so dishes from okra are recommended for diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. From ripened, roasted seeds, a drink is brewed that tastes like real coffee.
Okra fruits contain a large amount of vitamins and nutrients
Sometimes on the fruits of okra there are small inclusions of burning substances. With heat treatment, the sharpness disappears, but collecting and cooking raw vegetables, especially large ones, is better with gloves. This measure will protect your hands from burns and irritation.
Popular varieties of okra
Numerous varieties of okra differ from each other by the height of the bush, the size and taste of the fruits, and the duration of the growing season.
In our climatic conditions, the best yields yield:
- Star of David is a tall variety. Fruits reach a length of 15 cm.
- Red velvet is a late ripening variety. Large red fruits appear 70 days after germination.
- White velvet is one of the most popular varieties with beautiful white flowers and pods about 10 cm long.
- Clemson is a popular high-yielding variety. Of particular value are the large fruits of excellent taste.
- Blondi is a cold-resistant variety of rapid ripening with numerous cream-green fruits.
Biological description of the okra plant
Exotic countries are considered his homeland, but now the vegetable is distributed in many countries and has different names, for example, they call okra “ladies' fingers”. Visually, the fruit looks like a long pod with faces and a hairy surface. Fresh okra to taste is often compared with spinach, and a heat-treated vegetable with zucchini or beans. There are only young fruits that are no longer than ten centimeters. The vegetable reaches this size five days after the ovary. Later it becomes tough and tasteless. The seeds of an overripe vegetable can be dried and used to make a coffee-like drink.
Okra belongs to perennial plants of the Malvaceae family. To get the crop, it is grown as an annual. Okra easily tolerates drought and hot summers. Okra grows to a height of 40 centimeters. Individual varieties can reach two meters. Okra feels best in a drained nutrient ground. Okra blooms in large white or yellow flowers and has dark green leaves. After planting, the first fruits ripen in 45-60 days. Inside the vegetable there are many round seeds. In the natural environment, a vegetable grows in the Antilles.
The benefits and dangers of vegetables
Fruits are famous for their high content of nutrients. They have a lot of fiber. They are suitable for a diet. It is recommended to eat okra for pregnant and lactating women because of the high concentration of folic acid.
It helps to restore strength and has only one contraindication - individual intolerance. It eliminates chronic fatigue syndrome, improves the digestive system. Okra should be eaten during intense physical exertion.
Scientists have not proved the harm of a vegetable, but it can be poorly tolerated. Agronomists recommend thoroughly processing the fruits before eating. It is recommended to heat the burning areas on large fruits and clean the hairs. They can cause allergies. The pods contain many polysaccharides, which provoke diarrhea and flatulence. They are not recommended to eat their food to people with sick kidneys. The composition of okra includes solanine, which is considered a toxic compound.
Growing okra from seeds
The soil for planting should be fertile and nutritious. Enrich the soil begins in the fall, when the beds are dug. For fertilizer, humus or superphosphate is used.
Growing vegetables begins with planting seedlings. Experienced gardeners recommend soaking planting material for 24 hours before sowing. Seedlings after planting can germinate up to three weeks.
Seeds are sown in the first half of May immediately in individual cups. The okra plant does not like picks and does not tolerate them, so it is planted immediately in permanent containers. It is best to pick up peat cups for growing seedlings, as the seedlings have a developed root system. If you put okra in boxes for seedlings, then when picking, the root gets damaged and the seedling practically stops growing.
After planting, the seedlings are watered so that the topsoil does not turn into a dense crust, which prevents plants from breaking through. 15 days after planting, the first shoots begin to appear. During this period, the seedlings are kept at a temperature of about 15 degrees Celsius. If the room is cold, then the seedlings will grow slowly, and the plants will be weak. After seed germination, seedlings are fed with phosphorus. You can dilute nitrophosk with a concentration of two teaspoons in five liters of water.
After planting, the room should maintain a temperature of 20 to 25 degrees. When replanting in a greenhouse between the bushes, an interval of 30 to 60 centimeters is maintained. For tall varieties of shrubs, the distance is increased from 50 to 90 centimeters. The first pods begin to be removed in August.
The plant needs abundant and regular watering. In addition, in the greenhouse, plants are spud and weed. Before flowering, the bush should be fed with mineral compounds, and after the pods are tied, top dressing is carried out with potassium nitrate.
Diseases and Pests
Powdery mildew is one of the most common diseases of okra. It affects both sides of the leaves, and then spreads to the entire bush. The leaves begin to dry, the bush ceases to bear fruit and Okra perishes. For prevention, experienced gardeners recommend disinfecting all equipment. After that, the greenhouse is fumigated with sulfur checkers. In the active growing season, the plant is sprayed with “Kusulosom” or colloidal sulfur. It is recommended to carefully weed the greenhouse, as weeds are also affected and the crop may be affected by powdery mildew again.
Another okra parasite is brown spotting. It can be recognized by yellow spots on the leaves. They begin to dry out. To Okra less sick, he should be planted in different beds every new season. It is also recommended that the greenhouse be treated with sulfur dioxide in the fall. If the air is too humid, the greenhouse is sometimes aired. Calendula or garlic solution will help cure spotting. So that processing was more effective, soap shavings are added to structure.
Fruits can be used not only in cosmetology, cooking. Almost the entire fruit, including seeds, can be preserved or pickled. From the seeds, frying oil with a pleasant aroma is obtained. Such oil is not worse in quality and properties than ordinary olive oil and contains fatty acids. A coffee drink from seeds does not contain caffeine, but it tastes good and gives vigor.
Okra fruits are not stored for too long. They are cleaned in the refrigerator, but lie fresh and not go bad, they can be there for no more than three days. If you remove the vegetable on a dark shelf in a room with low humidity, then the pods can last up to six days. When preserving the fruit or properly drying it, the shelf life increases to three years. And also the pods can be frozen and stored in the freezer. This is the only way, in addition to canning and drying, which will preserve the taste of fruits in full.
To do this, the fruits are dipped in boiling water, then peeled off. Cold water is poured into the bowl. The peeled pods are again lowered and dried. After that, they are cut into two parts and laid out in bags, put into the freezer. Frozen fruits are simply thawed and cooked like regular fresh ones. In this way, you can harvest the product for future use and eat it all year round.
Growing okra in various climatic zones
Okra is successfully grown in many regions of our country, however, planting methods for different climatic zones have their own differences. Okra is planted mainly in seedling method. Sowing seeds directly into the soil is possible only in the southern regions - the Krasnodar Territory, Stavropol Territory, and the Caucasus. This is due to the fact that the culture is thermophilic and very sensitive to temperature drops.
In the central regions, in the Volga region, Siberia and the Urals, okra is planted through seedlings, and given the inconsistency of the weather, it is best to grow this crop in greenhouses or greenhouses.
For the good development of okra, it is important to choose a suitable place for planting. Given its southern origin, it is necessary to give it the sunniest and most sheltered area from the wind. Light fertile soil contributes to a rich harvest.
Okra (okra) is a tropical plant of the family malvaceae. This vegetable also has two more names - gombo and ladies' fingers. In this article, we will tell you what kind of plant it is, how it looks, and also a lot of other useful information.
Okra is a greenish pod of a pointed conical shape (see photo), which grows in warm climates. Vegetables can also be grown in cooler areas, but only if special cultivation methods are used.
Okra is a close relative of cocoa, cotton and hibiscus. On the fruits of the described exotic vegetable there are about seven faces in which very small seeds are located. As a rule, a grassy annual plant grows up to 25 centimeters. On the fruit of okra there are small villi, which must be removed before eating, so as not to provoke an allergy. The fruit of the plant is painted in a dark green hue. The overseas vegetable tastes like eggplant or asparagus.
The fruits of this plant contain a large amount of mucus. To remove it, during the preparation process you will need to add a little vinegar or tomatoes to the food.
The exotic plant is rich in a host of beneficial components, including a vitamin complex and ascorbic acid. Vegetable seeds contain 20% oil, and the pods contain vitamins, proteins, mineral salts, organic acids and carbohydrates. Thanks to this content, the described plant is simply adored by people who adhere to a healthy food culture, as well as vegans.
The only problem that many inexperienced gourmets may encounter is some features of the preparation of this vegetable, but we will talk about this a little later.
Varieties and varieties of okra
Today, there are several varieties and varieties of okra, which are very popular in the Russian Federation. Each fruit differs from the others in shape and size.
What varieties of plants are:
- Dubrava is undersized. The stem of this plant grows to 80 centimeters. The lower foliage on the stem has a five-lobed shape, and the upper is dissected. The flower in this species has a yellow color and a small shape (9 centimeters in diameter). The color of the ripe fruit turns dark green. The height of the okra can vary, but on average the plant reaches 18-20 centimeters. About 8 fruits can grow on such a crop, from which it is subsequently possible to obtain seeds for planting for the next period. Each fruit contains approximately 50 seeds.
- Lady fingers. Okra pods and seeds are quite edible. For this reason, people grow a culture to get a tasty treat, from which you can cook more than one dish. The plant grows to 1 meter. After planting a plant in open ground and before receiving the first fruits, at least 100 days elapse. On the stem of the "ladies' finger" there are rare hairs. The fruits of this culture outwardly resemble chilli, covered with villi. To remove them, you need to wipe the fruits with a rough piece of cloth. The fruits themselves are hidden in the bosom of the foliage. Interestingly, this species is very resistant to heat and arid weather. From this species, it is possible to harvest fruits twice a year, but subject to a warm climate. It is advisable to eat a slightly unripe fruit, as it contains an adhesive mass used to thicken various dishes. In addition, okra fruits are added to a vegetable salad, side dish or soup. This vegetable is canned, frozen or dried. Eating such a variety is useful for people on a diet, and for patients with atherosclerosis.
- The oak forest is ripe. At least 65 days pass immediately after planting in the soil until the first ovaries appear. It takes about 120 days for the seeds to appear in them. Okra of this variety bears fruit for approximately 1 month.During this time, harvesting can be carried out about 7-9 times. This variety is planted exclusively in open soil. Ovary can be eaten by people who follow a diet.
- The middle-sized flute. The stem of this plant reaches a height of 120 to 150 centimeters. The color of the inflorescences is yellowish, and the size is up to 7 centimeters. The fruits have a greenish tint, and their size is not more than 20 centimeters. To get seeds from the fruit, 10 copies are enough. The first ovaries form already on the 70th day after the planting of the crop in the ground. The seed ripening period is 125 days. This type of okra bears fruit for about 35 days, so the crop is harvested about 9 times a year.
In addition to these varieties, there are also others that are very in demand in the Russian Federation, namely White Velvet and White Cylinder Okra. Many summer residents prefer to plant these cultures on their personal plot. This is explained by the fact that the listed varieties give very tasty and incredibly useful fruits.
Okra has a lot of useful properties, due to which the described plant has been widely used. First of all, the fruits of a vegetable crop are real "pantries", which contain the richest vitamin-mineral complex. This will be discussed not only in this section.
What is useful vegetable culture:
- A huge amount of folic acid in fruits is very useful for women carrying a child in the diet. Moreover, this substance is useful for both the expectant mother and the fetus. Vitamin B9 in its natural form found in fruits is much healthier than its synthetic counterpart.
- The presence in the culture of dietary fibers that contains the produced mucus normalizes glucose levels. For this reason, the fruits of okra can be eaten by people who are diagnosed with diabetes. In addition, the described vegetable has the ability to combat harmful cholesterol, toxins and bile.
- Special substances that are part of the vegetable crop help to establish the activity of the digestive tract. If you regularly eat okra, you can forget about constipation, bloating, and in some cases, a vegetable is able to treat peptic ulcers. In addition, the vegetable helps to increase the number of beneficial microbes and bacteria (probiotics) in the walls of the small intestine.
- The described vegetable is very useful to eat while following a diet, as it is a low-calorie product. Fruits contain substances that strengthen blood vessels. Persons with diagnosed atherosclerosis should preferably include products containing okra in their diet.
- Thanks to the fruits of this culture, you can cope with angina, depression, as well as chronic fatigue.
The fruits contain a lot of iron, potassium, calcium, vitamins A, B and C, as well as macro and micronutrients. Moreover, vegetable culture is a champion in the content of vegetable protein and oil, which is in no way inferior to the olive "brother".
The calorie content of the dietary product is 30 kilocalories. For this reason, it can be safely consumed by people who are overweight and have stomach diseases. With okra, you can also cope with asthma.
The fruits of okra are very widely used in cooking around the world. It can be prepared in many ways. Okru is salted, pickled, canned, stewed, cooked in a double boiler or deep fat, fried, and also boiled. Moreover, raw fruits in the form of smoothies can be eaten without heat treatment. Also, the vegetable can be dried or frozen in order to enjoy this excellent product all year long.
This vegetable crop can serve as a substitute for zucchini, which is added to stew or ratatouille. In addition, from this vegetable, cooks make a side dish or an additive for soups and salads.The fruit perfectly combines with various spices, olive oil and improves the taste of any culinary masterpiece made on the basis of this vegetable crop.
You can eat and young okra leaves. They can be added to soup or salad. The seeds of this plant are also suitable for food. They must first be fried, and then used to make a bitter drink that resembles coffee. Okra seeds are suitable for the production of oil, which has a peculiar aroma and taste. In addition, the seeds of a young vegetable crop can easily replace canned green peas.
The pods of the described vegetable culture can also be eaten. The only negative is that they should not be stored for a long time, since the pods very quickly acquire a fibrous structure.
In taste, the okra fruit resembles a certain middle ground between green beans and zucchini. This circumstance allows culinary specialists to use the described vegetable in various culinary dishes very widely.
Cooked or slightly fried okru can be used as a side dish or as a dressing for the first dish. Vegetable with tomatoes, onions, garlic, chilli peppers, ginger root and various spices is very well combined.
How to cook okra?
In order to have an idea of how to properly cook okra, you first need to find out some of its distinguishing features, which will be discussed in this section.
The appearance of this overseas vegetable is vaguely reminiscent of unripe green pepper. There are villi on the outside of the okra, and a large number of seeds are hidden inside. Before you buy a product, it is advisable to choose a not very large fruit. You can give preference to such an instance, the length of which does not exceed 10 centimeters. Otherwise, you have a risk of acquiring an elderly and overripe vegetable.
What subtleties of cooking this vegetable you need to know:
- Before starting to cook, the fruit should be washed thoroughly under running water, wiped it with rough cloth to remove unnecessary hairs, and then cut off the tail,
- during the heat treatment of this vegetable, do not use cast-iron utensils so that the okra pods do not become dark,
- in order to prevent the vegetable from spreading during cooking, do not bother it with a spoon and do not expose it to prolonged heat treatment,
- if you want to make soup or sauce based on okra, first remove the sticky secret that this vegetable gives off,
- if you do not want the culinary dish to become viscous, then the product must first be sautéed or cut into very thin pieces, and then cook before evaporation of the sticky coating,
- metal utensils are not suitable as kitchen tools for cooking okra, as it can darken and deteriorate.
Thanks to the special mucous substances that the okra produces, it is possible to prepare an original soup or dressing with a thick consistency from it. You can cook vegetable pods very quickly according to various recipes. But it should be remembered that these components during prolonged heat treatment can digest, and then crumble. To prevent this from happening, it is advisable to add the ingredient at the very end, just before turning off the gas. After this, the dish should not be stirred for a while.
Natural lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, red bell pepper, marjoram, basil, thyme and curry underline the unique taste of the fruit in the best way.
Okru can be combined with a diverse grocery set. As a result of such a “tandem,” the ready-made dish from okra takes on a certain piquancy, but at the same time without the presence of any pronounced taste.
This vegetable has a lot of names, among which are: gombo, okra and ladies' fingers. If you hear this name, it means that we are talking about okra - a rather valuable vegetable crop, which belongs to the Malvov family.Nothing is known about the homeland of this plant, but it is widespread in Africa, North America, India and the tropics. Some call it West Africa, others call it India. This is due to the fact that in these places a wide variety of varieties and species of okra grows. The vegetable is found in Europe, but the Arabs brought it there. They grow it in Russia and Ukraine. This became possible after a noticeable warming. The number of enthusiasts growing it is very small.
Okra is an annual herb. In height, it can grow up to 40 cm, but there are times when a vegetable reaches two meters. Ocra has a very thick and branched stem. Leaves dipped in light green. They are very large and seven-bladed, although there are five. The flowers are quite large, with a yellowish-cream color. They are located on the pedicels in the bosom of the leaves. It is here that the fruits are formed. People call the fruits of okra bolls, due to the fact that they have 4-8 faceted shapes, inside of which are seeds.
Okra, like eggplant, is very demanding on heat. In this regard, it is cultivated in the southern regions. But that was before, now the situation has changed a bit. Craftsmen-gardeners successfully grow it in colder countries.
Vegetables are increasingly seen on store shelves not only frozen but also fresh. Recently, okra can be found in the market. Harvest this plant from August to November.
Seedling method of growing okra
Okra seeds germinate from two to four weeks, therefore, to speed up the process, they are pre-soaked. To do this, put a napkin with seeds in a saucer, moisten it with water at room temperature and put it in a warm place for a day.
When soaking the seeds, it is important to prevent them from completely immersing in water - the seeds must breathe. For best results, you can moisten the cloth with rain or melt water.
Contraindications to taking okra
Although the benefits of okra are undeniable, in certain circumstances an exotic fruit can harm:
- The main contraindication for okra is individual intolerance. Interestingly, there is an allergic reaction not only when eating fruits. Thin hairs with which okra pods are coated can provoke negative consequences.
- Do not allow them to enter the body, and moreover, with sensitive skin, it is dangerous to even touch them with unprotected hands. Before eating okra, you need to take the vegetable by the peduncle and wipe the pod with a hard rag with effort. In this case, the hairs from the surface of the okra will be removed, and it will become safe.
In addition to individual intolerance to the fetus and allergies to hairs, no other contraindications have been noted for ocra. However, nutritionists advise to consume it in moderation, if there is okra in too large portions, this can trigger diarrhea.
The product is unique in that it has almost no contraindications
There is not one way to preserve this vegetable. It can be corked in a jar as a separate dish or in combination with other vegetable crops.
It is advisable to remember such a recommendation that for preservation it is necessary to select only that vegetable that has not been overripe and was plucked not so long ago. No need to roll okra in a jar, which lay on the shelf of the refrigerator for several days.
If you cut the fruit lengthwise into small pieces and place them in a jar, you can see how wonderful the vegetable looks in a glass bowl and resembles small stars. It is not necessary to roll up only chopped fruit for the winter, it can also be preserved whole by choosing a suitable container. The only thing required is to cut off the edges of the shoot with a knife.
Before starting the process of preparing the product for the winter, you must first prepare the necessary components that you are going to preserve (in the case of combining the fruit with other vegetables). Next, you need to thoroughly wash all the vegetables, prepare and keep nearby spices and marinade, necessary for each jar. The latter is cooked over low heat. Glass containers themselves must first be sterilized, and then put the vegetables in jars. On top of a vegetable salad, pour boiling marinade, then pour it back into the pan. This procedure must be performed several times (if the recipe requires it). Immediately before rolling the jars into the container, add okra, pour a layer of marinade, and then plug it with a sealed metal sterilized lid.
Unconventional use of okra
Not only in soups and stews is used okra. Useful properties and contraindications of okra encourage the full use of all its components: both pulp and seeds.
Unripe okra seeds are canned and eaten instead of green peas. Due to its 20 percent oil content, very aromatic oil, similar to olive and rich in unsaturated fats like Omega-6, which is often used for pharmacological purposes, is extracted from okra seeds.
Ripe okra seeds are used to make the Gombo coffee substitute. First they are fried until the coffee aroma begins to be felt. Then cool, grind on a coffee grinder, and the resulting powder is brewed like coffee. The advantage of this drink is the absence of caffeine, and both children and the elderly will feel the benefit.
Cooking: how to cook okra?
When cooking dishes most often use immature (3-4 days) okra pods, dense and bright green. The more “mature” the fruit, the more fibrous and stiff it is and the less suitable for consumption. The optimal length of the pod is from 5 to 10 cm. A quality vegetable should be resilient and break easily when bent. Okra tastes like asparagus or eggplant. And how to cook it is akin to making asparagus beans.
Before preparing okra, in order to avoid allergic reactions, it is necessary to remove all hairs from its surface and rinse thoroughly.
Since okra is 90% water, stewing and cooking vegetables provokes the release of a large amount of mucus. For the preparation of soups and stews, this property is just a godsend. If this effect is undesirable, then first "ladies' fingers" must be fried in an acidic environment, for example, with lemon or tomato juice.
Okra pods cook very quickly, therefore, so that it does not lose shape when cooking a multi-component dish, it is better to add okra last.
Not much is known about his homeland, so it is generally believed that okra appeared in Africa, and after it began to be grown in India, North America and the tropics. I must say that in all these countries you can find many types and varieties of okra. Now the ladies' finger can be found in Europe - it was brought here by the Arabs. However, it is worth noting that not everyone is ready to take up the cultivation of such an unusual exotic culture.
Okra is an annual herbaceous plant that can grow up to 40 cm in height. However, there were also cases when a vegetable could reach a height of 2 meters. The okra has a very thick branched stem, and the leaves are slightly lowered down and have a light green color. Leaves are both five-lobed and seven lobed. The flowers of okra are quite large, they have a yellow-cream color. Often they are located on the pedicels in the axils of the leaves and it is here that the formation of the fruits takes place. The people call the fruit boxes, as they have an 8-sided shape and inside contain seeds. There are also pods here.
Many people compare okra with eggplant. This plant really needs similar care.Okra is demanding on heat, so it has gained great popularity in the southern regions. However, at present the situation has changed somewhat and now it can be cultivated in any country. Okru can be found on store shelves in fresh or frozen form. Also, the fruit is found in the markets. Harvesting is most often done between August and November.
Features of selection and storage
In the process of choosing okra, sufficient attention should be paid to its appearance. Plant pods should be long. They can have a bright green color without damage, mold spots and dry areas. It is worth giving preference to young and tender fruits, pleasant to the touch.
In some cases, there are also those that have a dark or reddish color. Identifying a fetus that is overripe is very easy. Just look at its leathery shell. Such a vegetable will be tougher due to the large number of fibers, so it can only spoil the taste of a particular dish, and not improve it.
Since gombo is a perishable product, it can only be stored for about three days. If you decide to keep the vegetable in the refrigerator, you should wrap it in a newspaper or bag.
Planting and caring for okra
If you are going to grow okra, you should know that the cultivation process will not be too simple, since this plant has its own characteristics. Okra seedlings are planted in early summer, when the soil is already sufficiently warmed up.
Sowing seeds is best done in April. For planting planting material, it is worth paying attention to peat pots or disposable glasses. Such a container is perfect for okra roots, since they grow very long, and it is important not to damage them during the transplant.
Okra: how to grow?
Okra is grown in fertile soil. It must be mixed with humus and minerals. Planting of seeds is carried out to a depth of 4 cm. And after planting, the seeds must be watered, but this must be done very carefully so that the crust does not form on the ground and there is not a lot of moisture.
After two weeks, the first shoots should appear. To do this, provide seedlings with a temperature regime that is within 15 degrees. If the temperature drops, the seeds will germinate slowly, and the seedlings will be weak. That is why it is so important to provide okra with proper care.
The benefits and treatment of okra
Okra is of great benefit to humans, so doctors prescribe treatment with this vegetable.
The benefits of okra became known after a series of studies. According to their results, confirmation was obtained that the described vegetable is able to prevent the formation of cancer, diabetes and cataracts. Moreover, doctors advise to include this exotic fetus in the diet for those who have not been operated on recently. There is evidence that this vegetable culture is quite capable of solving the problem of male potency.
Traditional medicine uses okra very widely for the prevention and control of various ailments associated with the digestive organs and respiratory system. Most often, various tinctures and decoctions are made from this component.
What diseases can be treated with this vegetable:
- Colds and excruciating cough. To provide therapeutic treatment of the upper respiratory tract, it is necessary to take 2 large tablespoons of crushed okra roots and pour 3 cups of liquid (warm and boiled). The infusion must be left for 2 hours, and after that it should be filtered. The resulting product can be sweetened with honey. You need to use the infusion 1 large spoon approximately 8 times a day until the cough and catarrhal diseases disappear.
- Atherosclerosis. To cope with this disease, alternative medicine doctors prescribe patients to eat okra (approximately 200 grams in 7 days).
Eating the fruit in its natural form or adding it to various culinary dishes is desirable for those who are diagnosed with diabetes, and also suffer from frequent diarrhea or constipation.
Fresh pods of this fruit contain a huge amount of vitamins and components useful for humans, which are in the food product in the form of calcium, iron, potassium, thiamine and folate. This fruit is a champion in the content of dietary fiber and protein.
Contraindications and harm
Alas, eating such an amazing vegetable as okra, in some cases, has contraindications that can be harmful to health.
Large pods sometimes contain small islands on the outer surface that can burn very hard. Such problem areas can be mitigated only through thermal exposure. Raw vegetable culture can cause skin itching. To prevent this from happening, you need to protect your hands with nitrile gloves.
It is not necessary to cook food in containers made of cast iron, as during the process chemical reactions occur that affect the structure and organoleptic characteristics of the food. As a result, the color of the pods will turn dark brown.
Persons who have allergic reactions after eating this exotic vegetable should consult their doctor. If, after the examination, the doctor recommends limiting the use of okra, then the vegetable should be completely abandoned so as not to provoke the formation of a new allergy.
Planting, growing and care
Many summer residents who want to have this overseas fruit on their site are interested in the intricacies of planting, growing and further care for the crop. In this section, we dwell on this issue in more detail.
The described culture with very useful qualities is quite possible to plant and grow even a beginner gardener. In the seeds of okra, field germination is preserved for about 2 years. However, in the conditions of our not too hot climate, they are usually not planted in open ground, but only grown seedlings from seeds.
To grow okra, you need to do this:
- First, you need to slightly treat the seeds with manganese, and then plant them in special boxes, the depth of which is no more than 30 centimeters. Tanks must be filled with peat, which was previously mixed with humus.
- Seeds should be planted to a depth of 2 to 3 centimeters. This must be observed because the plant itself is of southern origin. In order to survive, the culture needs to have a sufficiently deep root part, since the water in the arid area, where the plant is from, is located very deep.
- After planting, the seeds must be watered abundantly, and after a while the containers in which they are planted should be covered with a film.
- This heat-loving and photophilous vegetable crop should be kept under the film at a temperature of at least 20 ° C for 10 days after planting. In addition, the plant needs access to sunlight, and it is better to create artificial lighting in order for the first sprouts to appear.
- Okra should be watered 1 time in 5 days. But every day you need to remove the film for a while so that the seedlings can be aired.
- Planting seeds is better in late March - early April. In this case, the okra planted in the open soil by the middle of May has time to grow by 20 centimeters.
- Try to plant seedlings of "ladies' fingers" in places with good lighting. Before flowering, fertilizing the crop is not required, but approximately in the first decade of June, it will be necessary to fertilize the vegetable crop once every 14 days.
Do not forget that the plant can grow very much. For this reason, small seedlings should be planted at a distance of 45 centimeters from each other. It is imperative to combat weed, which causes enormous damage to the immature sprout in the first few weeks of growth.
Sowing seeds for seedlings
Okra seeds are planted in late April - early May. It is very convenient to use individual cups for planting, preferably peat. This is due to the fact that the okra seedlings have a root root, and there are almost no lateral roots, so they transfer the transplant painfully. The use of peat pots will allow to plant seedlings in the garden without damaging the root system.
When using peat pots, seedlings fall into the ground without damaging the roots
Step-by-step process of sowing seeds
- Set peat pots on a pallet and fill the soil for seedlings.
- In each pot, make a stick with a recess of about 4 cm.
- Lower the seed into the recess and sprinkle with earth.
- Pour water at room temperature.
- Cover the tray with pots with foil.
Okra seedlings care
During seed germination, it is necessary to maintain a temperature of about 20 degrees and periodically ventilate the pots. After the emergence of seedlings, the film must be removed, and the seedlings put in a bright warm place.
Further care for seedlings comes down to timely watering and feeding. Two weeks after emergence, the plants can be fed with a complete complex fertilizer for seedlings of vegetables. Such top dressing should be carried out every 12-14 days before transplanting seedlings to a permanent place.
Okra seedlings need to provide a warm and bright location
Planting seedlings in the ground
At the age of 35 - 45 days, okra seedlings that have grown and become stronger are planted in a permanent place. The beds with fertile soil are prepared in the fall - they make mineral and organic fertilizers for digging. Landing is best done in cloudy weather or in the evening. When planting tall varieties, between the bushes leave a distance of about 90 cm and between rows - 50 cm. Low-growing plants are planted after 60 cm and 40 cm row spacing. Planted plants are well shed and mulched with peat or humus.
The grown okra seedlings are planted on the beds
Reckless way to grow okra
In the southern regions of our country with a relatively long and warm summer, okra can be planted directly in the ground. Sowing is carried out when the soil is fully warmed up and the air temperature does not fall below 16 C.
Soaked seeds are deepened by 3-4 cm. The distance between the wells is the same as when planting seedlings. Two seeds can be placed in a hole and later, when seedlings appear - weakly trim the weak ones. Level and water the land.
Care during the growing season
Okra care is simple and methods for seedling and seedling methods of cultivation are the same. After emergence, it is necessary to prevent drying of the soil. When fertilizing, it is advisable to alternate mineral phosphorus-potash fertilizers and organic.
At first, seedlings need regular care - weeding, loosening the soil, top dressing and timely watering. With the growth of okra, care is simplified - overgrown bushes do not allow the soil to dry out quickly and themselves inhibit the growth of weeds. Adult bushes can be watered less often, but abundantly, to wet the ground to a depth of 40 cm.
The formation of okra bush is carried out in two ways. You can grow a plant in one trunk - breaking out the emerging stepsons. Proponents of this method argue that the branches give little fruit, but take away the strength of the main shoot, which also loses productivity.
In the second method, the crown of the main stem is shortened, which stimulates the formation of lateral branches. Adherents of such cultivation believe that such molding gives a greater yield. And apparently, only experiments on their own site will help the amateur decide what method is preferable.
About two months after emergence, the okra begins to bloom, and after a week you can take the first crop. The fruits need to be collected regularly, because, after sagging two or three days extra, they become coarse and inedible. In the south, harvesting is carried out every other day, in areas with a colder climate - every 4–5 days.
Okra fruit collection
The fruiting of okra lasts until late autumn, but with the decrease in air temperature the growth of pods sharply slows down.
When harvesting okra, care should be taken, since the plant is covered with hard, fine pubescence, which causes irritation to the skin. Therefore, working with this crop is better with gloves on.
For okra, the disease is characteristic of diseases characteristic of plants of the family malvaceae.
The black leg is a fungal disease. Often affects the stems of okra seedlings. The diseased plant should be removed immediately so that neighboring ones are not infected. To prevent the occurrence of the black leg, you should not allow excessive moisture, often ventilate the plants if they grow in a greenhouse.
When preparing the soil for seedlings and subsequent planting in open ground, it is advisable to shed it with a solution of phytosporin. This microbiological preparation is effective for the treatment and prevention of many fungal and bacterial diseases.
Rust is a dangerous fungal disease. It appears in the form of yellow spots on leaves, stems and buds. On the inner side of the leaf brownish tuberous clusters - spores of the fungus - are found. Affected plants tend to die. If a diseased plant is found, it is necessary to immediately remove it and inspect all plantings.
Powdery mildew is a common fungal disease. On the leaves of the affected plant, you can notice a white coating, the plant is poorly developed, takes ugly forms. It is necessary to remove all leaves with white coating.
Medical and preventive measures
To combat fungal diseases, it is recommended to spray not only diseased plants with a solution of phytosporin, but also neighboring ones, as well as the soil around them. The instructions for the drug describe in detail how to prepare the drug and how often to repeat treatment.
To prevent the occurrence of diseases, when growing okra, you must adhere to the basic rules of agricultural technology:
- observe crop rotation
- prevent thickening of landings,
- remove excess leaves, especially those touching the ground,
- fight weeds and pests, because often they are the carriers of diseases.
Errors in the application of fertilizing lead to weakening of plants and a decrease in immunity. Excess nitrogen and a lack of phosphorus-potassium fertilizers can trigger the occurrence of fungal diseases.
Pests of okra
Of the insect pests, the most likely danger to okra is represented by aphids, thrips, and cabbage scoop.
Aphids - a frequent garden guest, pulls juices from leaves, weakening the plant. An accumulation of small gray or green insects can be seen on the top of the plant and on the underside of the leaf.
Thrips are sedentary small insects that cause significant damage to plants. Settling on leaves and buds, they draw the juice from the plant. After their meal, holes remain on the plants into which all kinds of fungi can penetrate, so the fight against this pest must be started immediately.
Cabbage scoop - a caterpillar devouring both the leaves and fruits of okra. In a very short time, the pest is able to leave the gardener without a crop of not only okra, but also many other crops.
By following simple rules for growing okra, pests can be prevented. It is very important not to let the beds thicker, to weed out on time. Regular inspection of plants will help to notice the pest until the moment when it will be difficult to deal with it, and the damage done is noticeable. At the first detection of insects, it is necessary to treat the plantings with an insecticide. Today, on the shelves of stores a rich assortment of various means for pest control. Among these many, I would single out Fitoverm - a biological preparation that is low toxic and environmentally friendly.Fruits and vegetables processed by Fitoverm can be eaten in two days.
Collection, use and storage of okra
Harvested okra fruits are not subject to long-term storage. Fresh they must be used within two to three days after removal. You can use the vegetable raw, stewed or fried, as side dishes, salad ingredients or as an independent dish. For cooking, take young pods, washed and scalded with boiling water. Peels prepared in this way can be easily peeled off. This must be done so that the rough skin does not spoil the taste of the dish. Okra is prepared quickly, in just a few minutes, and at the same time its useful properties are not destroyed.
Okra stewed with vegetables
To preserve the fruits of okra for a long time, use quick freezing, drying or canning.
Okra (okra) grew without any problems, planted seeds directly in the ground (i.e., without seedlings), in the second half of May (still a thermophilic plant).
In the Krasnodar Territory, I grew okra. (Okra is her second name). If I am not mistaken, this plant is a relative of cotton. The vegetable is quite interesting, you can cook delicious dishes, but always from young knocks, as they quickly ripen and become stiff. Contains a large number of mucous substances, relaxes the stomach well. Conditions for growth: soil and air temperature - not lower than 14–16 degrees. In the middle lane and to the north, you can try to grow in a greenhouse or under film shelter. The growing season for different varieties, from 60 to 90 days.
okra (okra) - the fruits must be removed regularly, otherwise they will be stiff, fibrous. Super delicious pickled. A very fruitful vegetable, but again, do not chase the size. Less is better. Peerless laxative.
Harvest of okra will delight gardeners and gardeners regardless of whether it is grown in a greenhouse or in the open. And dishes prepared from this dietary product will diversify and enrich any diet.
What does okra look like?
Grassy annual okra is a plant that reaches an average of about 50 cm in height. The main stem of okra is thick, strong and branched, covered with light green large leaves, five- or seven-lobed, with slight pubescence on the surface. Flowers in the plant appear in spring almost close to the stem, in the axils of the leaves. Pedicels are very short and pubescent, and the flowers themselves are large, single, yellowish-cream in color.
Exotic okra - a vegetable with fruits in the form of pods
Ocra fruits also form in the axils of the leaves. They look like elongated pyramidal boxes, slightly resembling green peppers. In length, the fruits can reach 25 cm, on top they are covered with small thin hairs. Okra bears fruit from August to November, so it makes sense to look for it in stores in the fall.
Important! On sale, the vegetable is found not only under the name okra and okra, but also under the name of gombo, edible abelmosh or "ladies' fingers". In all cases, we are talking about the same product.
What is useful okra
Okra has numerous properties that make the vegetable valuable for use in dietary and medical purposes. Namely:
- improves the overall tone of the body and helps fight chronic fatigue,
- prevents the development of depression,
- beneficial effect on the respiratory system and benefits in asthma,
- regulates blood sugar and helps maintain proper metabolism,
- protects eyesight and helps cure inflammation of the eyes,
- regulates the vascular system and evens out pressure with hypertension.
- improves the reproductive system in men and women.
In particular, there are several useful properties of okra when eaten.
The composition contains a large amount of folic acid. Therefore, okra is recommended for use by pregnant women, especially in the early stages. Okra not only saturates the body of a woman with vitamins and valuable minerals, but also contributes to the proper development of the baby. Folic acid is responsible for the normal formation of the brain and nervous system of the embryo and reduces the risk of intrauterine abnormalities.
The benefit of okra for pregnant women is also that when you use okra, you can not gain weight. Given that during the period of bearing a child, many women manage to acquire extra pounds due to a changed diet, this point is quite important.
Even pregnant women can consume vegetables without fear
Okra fruits contain glutathione - a tripeptide that takes part in the body's detoxification processes. A useful substance helps to remove decay products from tissues and prevents the propagation of free radicals. In addition, glutathione improves the recovery processes of natural antioxidants - vitamins C, D, E and A.
Rules for selection and storage
Since okra appeared relatively recently on store shelves, not everyone knows what a fresh vegetable should look like.
When choosing okra, you must carefully inspect the product. Pods should be:
- elastic to the touch, without dents or rotten barrels, with soft hairs on the surface, if there is no pubescence on the skin, then the okra is overripe,
- juicy green or slightly reddish depending on the variety - without yellowness and brown shades.
The length of the okra pods is usually about 10 cm.
Shelf life at ocra is very short. In the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator, it retains freshness for only 3 days, so it is best to cook it immediately after purchase.
Harmful properties and side effects
Large pods may have tiny burning spots on the skin that soften after heat treatment, but when raw, can cause significant skin itching. Stock up on gloves!
Do not cook the dish in copper and cast iron dishes - a chemical reaction will occur that will degrade the appearance of the dish. The pods will become an unpleasant dark brown hue.
There is a lot of mucus in okra, so a drop of vinegar and other acidic components, such as tomatoes, should be added to dishes with its participation. These bright pods are good in salted and fried, deep-fried, they are added to rice dishes, curries and South Asian soups (for example, Gumbo soup).
Okra can be an excellent alternative even in such an exquisite dish as ratatouille. Of seasonings, it is compatible with Provencal oil and lemon juice, as well as curry, marjoram, thyme and cayenne pepper.
In general, if you meet okra in a supermarket, be sure to buy it.
If you are interested in exotic vegetables, then in this article you will find a lot of useful and very interesting information.
Many will probably hear for the first time about such a miracle - a vegetable like okra. It has a special not only name but also appearance. Okra has a few more names: okra, ladies' fingers, gombo.
In appearance, the vegetable is similar to a pointed green pod having a conical shape. It grows only in countries with a warm climate. The Middle East is considered his homeland, and more specifically, it is Ethiopia.
Okru is also grown in countries with colder climates, but special cultivation methods must be followed. Okra has a kinship with crops such as cotton, cocoa and hibiscus.
But did you know that during the Second World War, the inhabitants of Africa and Asian countries felt an acute shortage of coffee, and they had to use the fruits of okra instead? Since then, many gourmets have preferred this particular vegetable with a delicious taste.
A huge number of plant varieties and species is known not only in West Africa, but also in India.
Residents of European countries met with okra in the 18th century. The Arabs brought the vegetable to Europe for the first time, and it found its application in the cuisines of many peoples. In Russia, okra appeared relatively recently.
In our country, it is cultivated only in the Stavropol and Krasnodar Territories. Craftsmen - gardeners are very successfully trying to grow okru in the regions of the Moscow Region. Lovers of exotic plants grow okra in the south of Ukraine. But, unfortunately, there are few such enthusiasts.
Unopened green pod and young leaves are consumed.
. Every 4 to 5 days, new pods are formed on the plant, which must be picked before they are overripe. The taste of okra is surprisingly similar to asparagus or eggplant. These products even have an identical cooking method.
Okra can be fried, stewed, used for the preparation of salads in raw form. A curious gastronomic product is the seeds of this vegetable. After roasting, they resemble coffee to taste. Oil is also squeezed from the seeds, which has a pleasant and delicate aroma.
On the shelves of our stores recently you can find okra in both frozen and fresh.
When buying a vegetable, one should not forget to pay attention to its appearance. The maximum length of the pods should not exceed 10 cm. The smaller the fruits, the better they are. Color - bright green, without visible damage, dry patches and moldy spots.
You need to buy young and delicate fruits, tight to the touch. In an overripe fetus, the membrane becomes leathery. Such a vegetable is not suitable for consumption, its taste is much worse than a young fruit.
Features of cooking and product preparation
To taste, the unripe okra pods are somewhat reminiscent of eggplant, asparagus or green peas. But the vegetable remains tasty only while it is fresh. Pods suitable for cooking should be stored for no more than a week. Then they lose moisture, become fibrous and not tasty.
Young pods cook quickly - just boil a little or fry them. An important preparation condition is that the juice does not have time to thicken, and the okra is not sticky. It must be cooked quickly, not digested or overcooked. Can be removed from the stove as soon as the pods are softened. Putting okra in the first or second courses is possible in its entirety, or cut into pieces.
The prepared product can be used as an ingredient in meat and fish dishes, cereals, vegetable soups, add to salad. It goes well with tomatoes, onions and garlic, hot peppers, ginger and other spices. From roasted and ground okra seeds, you can make a drink that tastes like natural coffee.
A few recipes for cooking:
Garnish from okra. Pour in the pan sunflower oil, fry a little garlic and onion on it. Rinse the pods, peel them off, trim the tails. Put them in a pan and simmer for about 15 minutes. In order not to break the pods, stir them as little as possible. Before removing from heat, salt and pepper should be added to okra, if desired, lemon juice and slices of tomatoes. Serve in any form - hot or cold.
Okra with meat. Wash the meat, cut into pieces, fry in a pan or simmer for about 0.5 hours. Stew the pods separately if necessary so that they remain firm. You can also add them directly to the meat, in which case the dish will be viscous. Before cooking, add various seasonings, garlic, parsley leaves, slices of tomatoes to the meat.
Pickled Pods. You can pickle okra, just like cucumbers or tomatoes. Put spices on the bottom of the jar, densely okra on them, put spices on top. Then pour boiling water, wait 5 minutes, drain the water into a container for boiling. Repeat 2 more times. For the third time, add sugar in a drained liquid to 1 liter of water - 1 tsp. sugar, salt - 1 dessert L. and vinegar - 1 tsp.You can also add a little alcohol or vodka - the pods will turn out crispy. Pour boiling water and roll up. Store pickled okra, like the rest of the preservation in a cool dark place.
To make the vegetable available in the winter months, okra can be frozen: put in small portions in food bags or containers and put them in the freezer. You can cook frozen okra in the same way as fresh.
Historians say that many famous beauties of antiquity, Cleopatra from Egypt and Young Guifey from China loved to eat okra. Meanwhile, these green pods can be used for purely cosmetic purposes.
For example, to strengthen the hair, giving it a bright shine, you need to cut them into strips, boil so that the brew becomes as mucous as possible. Then the mixture needs to be cooled, add a few drops of lemon juice and use as a hair balm. The extract, added to the cosmetic cream, prevents the skin from acne and bumps.
How to store
It turns out to store okra for quite a while. You will soon notice that the pods begin to turn yellow. Even in the refrigerator, this period will come quite quickly. They taste best after the first 2-3 days of harvest. Storing in its natural form is thus not profitable, but you can always freeze, pickle and dry them.
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How to choose okra
On sale you can find young and old okra pods. Young ones are more tender, they do not have impressive spikes that adorn ripe fruits. Young pods are considered a more profitable source of vitamins and minerals, although we could not find data on a comparative analysis of the composition. Young okra is taken for salad and as a side dish.
"Old" is better used as the basis for cooking home hair conditioner, and is actively used in cosmetology. However, you can also put it in a salad, just boil it in salted water and cut the thorns.
Ripe green okra pods with no whitish marks on the sides. Before buying, you need to carefully inspect the pods, and do not take those that are visually damaged (this is the work of the parasites). When buying, do not immerse your hands in a container with pods, there may be old specimens with spikes and you will injure your hands.
Dried okra is brown, the pods are somewhat reminiscent of dehydrated bananas. When choosing a dried option, you need to pay attention exclusively to the condition of the entire product. If there are mucous "blotches", someone has already wetted okra. Dry pods are eaten "as is", soaking them is not good, and can lead to the appearance of bacteria or fungi in the mass. It is worth avoiding such okra.
Okra, whose seeds germinate very slowly, requires a lot of heat. Therefore, it is necessary to create all the necessary conditions for it. To accelerate the emergence of seedlings, you need to soak the seeds before planting in warm water for a day. For seedlings we use peat pots. The soil can be taken ready or garden. An important point is the presence of a large number of organic and mineral fertilizers. Seeds begin to germinate at a minimum temperature of 18 degrees. Three or four seeds are placed in each pot. Depth of landing should be no more than 3 centimeters. In two weeks, the first shoots will appear. Thinning seedlings is a must.
In the future, good okra will grow out of it. Growing from seeds does not require any particular effort. The main thing is heat (20-22 degrees). Naturally, the plant needs watering as the soil dries. But you should not overdo it. Okra does not like excessive moisture. This is a drought tolerant plant. It will be useful to feed seedlings with phosphate fertilizers.
Planting a plant
After a month and a half, you can transplant seedlings to a permanent place. In warm places, it can be open ground.The main thing when landing is a small density. To get a good harvest, you should plant plants at a distance of 30-50 centimeters from each other.
Between the rows should be at least 60 centimeters. Landing is carried out in the first half of June. If okra is cultivated in a greenhouse, then adequate ventilation must be ensured. The plant does not like high humidity and severe overheating. Okra, growing from seeds of which is the most common method, develops well in indoor conditions. A large capacity is used for planting and placed on the south side.
It should be noted that growing okra is not an easy task. This is due to the climatic characteristics of some regions. Okra is a thermophilic and photophilous plant. Therefore, to grow it in Central Russia in the open ground will not work. But the cultivation of okra is possible in a room environment. In such conditions, it develops well and gives rich harvests.
For germination it is better to use peat pots. Okra loves light and fertile soil. It is also recommended to use a large number of organic fertilizers. If the climate allows, then subsequently seedlings are planted in open ground or in a greenhouse.
Pests and diseases of okra
Like most vegetable plants, okra can suffer from diseases and pests. Powdery mildew can cause great harm. It manifests itself in the form of an abundant white coating on both sides of the leaf and on other parts of the plant. The causative agent of the disease hibernates on plant debris. In order to prevent its spread, plant debris is promptly removed and weeds are systematically removed around the greenhouse, which are the first to be affected by powdery mildew and are carriers of the disease: plantain, comfrey, sow thistle.
Brown spotting affects the plant with high humidity in greenhouses and greenhouses. Yellowish spots appear on the upper side of the leaves of the plants, on the lower side there is a coating of initially light, then dark brown. With a severe defeat, the leaves turn brown and dry. The causative agent of the disease hibernates on plant debris.
Thrips is a small insect that parasitizes mainly in greenhouses. Due to their fertility, thrips can damage a large number of plants in a short time. Whitish-yellow spots appear on the leaves from their injections, the leaves turn brown and dry when severely damaged.
When thrips occurs, infusions and decoctions of insecticidal plants of bitter pepper (50 g / l), wormwood (100 g / l) are used, as a more exotic option - peels of orange, mandarin, lemon (100 g / l). For better adhesion, before spraying, add 20-40 g of laundry soap per 10 liters to the solution.
Cabbage scoop, whose caterpillars appear by the middle or end of May, are distinguished by extraordinary gluttony. They eat almost all the leaves, leaving only the veins. With a small number of caterpillars collected manually, and with a very large - spraying with biological agents: bitoxibacillin or lepidocide (40-50 g per 10 l of water).
In wet years, okra can be affected by slugs that are struggled with in traditional and every possible way: they remove weeds, thoroughly loosen the soil, set traps under which slugs are hidden, sprinkle row spacings with ash, lime or superphosphate, and also arrange beer in trays for which they together slide.
And the question arises - why all these tricks? Are there really few other, less moody vegetables?
Where to buy okra
In regions where okra is not grown, it can be bought in supermarkets specializing in exotic fruits and vegetables. For the price it will catch up with expensive asparagus, it remains only to console itself with its useful properties.
In growing countries (Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Japan, China), okra can be found in the regular vegetable market or in any supermarket chain, not even in very expensive establishments."Local" usually prefer to buy okra in the market, since there it is more recent.
Dried or dehydrated okra is sometimes sold in packaged form in health food stores, but in most cases its “habitat” is next to fresh “ladies' fingers”. Yes, it is this phrase that rewards the useful pods of the local population of Cyprus.
Okra (photo allows you to make a certain idea about the plant) will delight its fruits, if all the conditions for its growth are met. Wherever this vegetable is cultivated, it needs warmth. But overheating is also not worth it. Watering is carried out as the soil dries. It is impossible to moisten the earth too much. Okra loves light soil. Therefore, loosening the soil for her is vital. You also need to monitor the appearance of weeds and remove them in time. The plant also needs fertilizing. To do this, use organic fertilizers, which are best applied to the soil before planting. Mineral products can also be used. Okra grows very quickly. After 2 months after planting the seeds, you can get the first fruits. Harvest must be done regularly. Only unripe fruits are eaten. To collect seeds, leave a few pods and let them ripen completely.
Video: how to grow a culture at home
Growing exotic okra at home is real, subject to a number of rules. To get a quality crop, we recommend watching this video on planting vegetable seeds for seedlings.
Okra (okra) is a green pointed pod of conical shape, distributed in warm climatic conditions (homeland is the area around the Nile in North Africa and the Middle East, more precisely - Ethiopia). It can be grown in cooler areas using special cultivation methods. Okra is a relative of hibiscus, cotton and cocoa.
During World War II, a shortage of coffee forced the people of Asia and Africa to use okra seeds instead of coffee. This phenomenon is called "okra fever." Since then, in the local markets, okru can be found at any time of the year.
Today, this delicious vegetable is known and loved by gourmets from Texas to Timbuktu itself.
Fresh okra pods contain many nutrients: vitamins A, C, K, B6, as well as calcium, iron, thiamine, folate, potassium. This vegetable boasts a high protein and dietary fiber content. In a word, okra is a vegetarian's dream.
Eating okru is extremely beneficial for pregnant women because of the high concentration of folic acid, which is involved in the formation of the neural tube of the embryo during the first 4-12 weeks of pregnancy.
Plant mucus and dietary fiber of okra fruits regulate blood sugar by absorbing it in the small intestine. In general, okra is recommended for people with gastrointestinal disorders.
Okra promotes the secondary absorption of water, leaches excess cholesterol, metabolic toxins and excess bile from the body, prevents constipation and bloating, and heals stomach ulcers. Okra promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the small intestine called probiotics and helps in the synthesis of vitamin B.
This is an ideal vegetable for those who dream of losing weight without harm to health (in 100 g of pods no more than 40 calories), as well as for people suffering from depression and chronic fatigue, it will help in the fight against pneumonia and tonsillitis, maintain joint mobility, reduce asthma attacks in asthmatics (due to the high concentration of antioxidants). Okra strengthens the walls of the capillaries, is good in the diet of patients with atherosclerosis.
A number of scientific studies have confirmed that okra successfully prevents certain types of cancer (colorectal cancer), reduces the risk of cataracts and diabetes.
Such a wide range of beneficial properties of okra led to the fact that scientists began comprehensive studies of this vegetable, and already today a series of successful experiments are carried out to replace blood plasma with active components isolated from bright green mucous pods.
1 diced onion fried in 2 tbsp. vegetable oil. Add 6 cloves of garlic, fry until golden brown. 450 grams of frozen or fresh okra, 3 chopped fresh or canned tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and black pepper (amount to your taste) are placed next.
Everything is mixed, brought to a boil. Then the fire must be reduced and cooked for 35-45 minutes until the okra is ready. Serve with rice.
The value and composition of vitamins in okra
In culinary and other areas, okra is very highly regarded. The reason for this is its diverse and useful chemical composition. In the fruits of the plant are present:
- vitamins B6, B5, B9, B1 and B2,
- vitamins A and K,
- tocopherol and vitamin PP,
- choline and beta-carotene,
- vitamin C,
- calcium and potassium
- silicon and phosphorus
- manganese and copper
Mostly okra consists of carbohydrates, about 7 g per serving of product per 100 g. Another 2 g is occupied by proteins, and fats are given only 0.1 g in the composition.
For the digestive tract
Okra contains fiber in high volumes, and also has anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective properties. Use okra is useful:
- with gastritis and peptic ulcer,
- with acute and chronic hepatitis,
- with pancreatitis and diseases of the gallbladder and biliary tract,
- with colitis
- with fibrosis and even cirrhosis of the liver.
Okra effectively fights bacterial and infectious processes in the digestive system and quickly improves well-being. Its healing and anti-inflammatory properties are in demand in the treatment of hemorrhoids and rectal fissures. Okru is also used for dysbiosis, a tendency to diarrhea or constipation, useful okra improves metabolism and helps to establish digestion.
For the heart and blood vessels
Okra in any form is very useful for the heart and blood vessels, it contains many antioxidants and other substances responsible for the good functioning of the circulatory system. The use of okra brings a positive effect in diabetes, with high cholesterol and a tendency to heart ailments.
Okra accelerates blood circulation and improves the supply of oxygen to the brain, therefore, against the background of its presence in the diet, attention and concentration increase. To use okru is useful for the prevention of not only strokes and heart attacks, but also Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s diseases.
In folk medicine
The therapeutic benefits of okra are recognized, among other things, by official medicine. Studies confirm that the product really helps in the fight against a number of ailments. You can use okra:
- for oncological diseases and for the prevention of neoplasms,
- with diabetes and metabolic disorders,
- with cataracts and other diseases of vision,
- with malfunctions of reproductive functions in men,
- with diseases of the respiratory system,
- with atherosclerosis,
- with pressure surges.
Recipes of decoctions and infusions
Despite the fact that okra in any form has medicinal properties, for certain diseases special medicines are prepared from it. The concentration of nutrients in them is increased, respectively, and they bring a valuable effect faster.
For colds and coughs, it is useful to use an okra infusion with honey. Make it like this:
- fresh okra roots are crushed in a volume of 2 large spoons,
- pour raw materials with 3 cups of clean warm water,
- left for 2 hours, then filtered through cheesecloth.
To improve the taste and benefits of okru, you can sweeten with a small spoon of honey. Take an infusion of okra, 1 large spoon, 6-8 times a day until the symptoms of a cold are weakened.
For stomach upsets, constipation, and diarrhea, an okra decoction is beneficial.According to the recipe, you need:
- pour some mashed okra pods with water,
- add a few drops of lemon juice,
- put the pan on the stove and cook over low heat until the substance thickens.
They use 1 spoonful before each meal, okra helps speed up digestion and regulate the process of removing toxins from the body.
Most often, okra can be found in national dishes of Asian and African cuisine. In European and Russian culinary, it is used much less frequently due to its small distribution.
Recently, however, an interesting taste of okra has attracted the attention of culinary and gourmets. Okra is used in the kitchen:
- for blanching,
- for canning with marinade and salt,
- for stewing and frying, including deep-fried.
Okra fruits go well with most spices and herbs, with mushrooms and vegetables, cereals, meat and fish. Okru is used in the preparation of first courses; when boiled, it not only remains tasty, but also acquires a mucous consistency inside, which is useful for the stomach.
In Asian countries, based on okra seeds, an invigorating gombo drink is prepared, similar in properties and aroma to coffee. At the same time, caffeine is absent in the drink, which makes it more harmless to the body.
Okra shows its useful properties, including when applied externally. With the help of okra, it is possible to combat dry skin and hair loss, it has a beneficial effect on the epidermis, strengthens hair follicles, and helps to increase the volume of curls.
- Hair balm. To restore curls healthy shine, strength and obedience, you can prepare a natural balm. A few okra pods are crushed, boiled for half an hour, and then the mucous broth is filtered. A few drops of fresh lemon juice are added to the finished product and mixed. Apply the gel to the hair immediately after washing, with regular use, okra will help restore strand tone.
- Face cream. You can use okra to nourish and moisturize the skin. The easiest way is to squeeze a little juice from the fresh fruits of the okra and add it to a regular day cream. If you use an enriched product daily, then the skin will quickly cease to peel off, and the problem of acne and acne will disappear.
When losing weight
The properties of okra are highly regarded by nutritionists. An exotic vegetable contains a lot of fiber, but its calorie content is very small. Therefore, weight gain with the use of okra does not occur, but the metabolism begins to work much better, and toxins do not linger in the body.
Okru is recommended to use not only on a diet, but also for obesity, as well as for a sedentary lifestyle, for the prevention of constipation. Since okra muffles appetite, a couple of vegetable pods can be eaten half an hour before you eat, this will allow you to do in smaller portions. Okra is very convenient as a quick and healthy snack with a busy daily schedule.
Interesting facts about okra
If in Europe and in Russia okra began to gain popularity recently, in hot tropical countries it has been known for millennia. According to historians, okra was constantly present at the dining table of Queen Cleopatra, and this Egyptian ruler was very concerned about her attractiveness and paid great attention to diet.
There are also allegations that the famous Russian writer Anton Chekhov respected okra. He not only used okru, but also personally grew it on a personal plot. According to legend, it was Chekhov who gave the okre one of the unofficial names - "ladies' fingers".