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Okra Plant Stock Photos and Images

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  • Okra plant with flower
  • Okra plant Green Jewelry cultivar
  • Food background – fresh okra plant. Display of fresh Abelmoschus esculentus, commonly known as okra vegetable at the Farmer’s market.
  • Okra plant
  • Fresh Okra At The Farmer’s Market
  • Bright green finger okra pouring from bucket onto red cloth display
  • okra plant
  • Mature okra growing on plant.
  • okra plant that has plenty of fruit
  • Fresh okra plant lies on a cutting board in the kitchen
  • Scientific Name : Abelmoschus esculentus. Bokeh Photo of Okra plant with buds, also known as Ladies’ Finger, is a green vegetable & vegetarian delight
  • An okra plant blooms, Tucson, Arizona, USA.
  • Fresh Ochra, Bhindi or Ladies Fingers whole and uncooked against a white background for cut out
  • Growing vegetables, Okra plant
  • Okra plant, hibiscus esculentus, vegetable coming into flower in Bauchi State, Nigeria, West Africa
  • Fresh from the farm okra in brown bushel baskets at farmers market
  • Detail showing a pale yellow blossom, bright green leaves, and burgundy stalks of a red burgundy okra plant.
  • Green okra or lady finger in plant
  • Close-up on an okra seed pod still attached to the okra plant one morning in late Fall. Okra is also known as ladies fingers.
  • Okra plant with flower
  • Okra plant with flower
  • Kissimmee, FL – Jan 2009 – Okra and eggplant growing in the hydroponic gardening display in The Land exhibit at Epcot Center
  • Okra plant
  • Fresh Okra At The Farmer’s Market for sell
  • Okra plant or lady’s finder or gumbo
  • Fresh Okra On White Background
  • loofah plant, loofah flower or gourd plant or okra plant with blue sky background
  • Okras on the okra plants; okra or okro (ladies Finger) known in many countries as ladies’ fingers or ochro, is a flowering plant in the mallow family
  • Fresh okra plant lies on a cutting board in the kitchen
  • Nice close-up image of an okra plant (Abelmoschus esculentus) with maturing flower and fruit. The green seed pods are edible. This okra plant is…
  • Okra plant growing in home garden in Asia,india. nature concept with sunset warm light, agriculture industry, Lady finger farming
  • Okra
  • Growing vegetables, Okra plant
  • Indian vegetables. Eggplant / Aubergine or Brinjal in a basket at an Indian market. Andhra pradesh, India
  • Okra pods and leaves botanical hand drawing
  • Okra plant close up organic produce food farming
  • Green Okra in nature
  • Close-up on an okra seed pod still attached to the okra plant one morning in late Fall. Okra is also known as ladies fingers.
  • Okra or Lady’s Fingers (Abelmoschus esculentus), plant with fruit
  • Okra plant with flower
  • The Okra plant and flower in focus.
  • okra plant flower
  • Isolated backlit shot of flowering Okra plant
  • Okra or Ladies fingers growing in a pot.
  • Fresh Okra On White Background
  • loofah plant, loofah flower or gourd plant or okra plant with blue sky background
  • Okras on the okra plants; okra or okro (ladies Finger) known in many countries as ladies’ fingers or ochro, is a flowering plant in the mallow family
  • Fresh okra plant lies in a pan on a table in the kitchen
  • Great close-up image of an okra plant (Abelmoschus esculentus) with flower buds and a maturing & developing fruit. The green seed pods of this popular…
  • Okra, lady finger growing in farm, Okra plant with leaves with bury background
  • Okra
  • Growing vegetables, Okra plant
  • Okra plant with flower and bee in garden
  • Okra yellow Flower
  • Okra plant and flower in bloom against blue sky organic produce agriculture square composition
  • Green Okra in nature
  • Close-up of an okra seed pod infested with black aphid insects (aka blackflies) on an okra plant one morning in late Fall.
  • Single object of okra vegetable isolated on white background
  • Okra seedlings growing in a seed tray
  • A healthy Okra plant seedling showing a healthy root system & ready for transplanting.
  • Okra plant
  • Okra harvest ‘Abelmoschus esculentus’ .
  • Fresh green okra at the farmer market in Mauritius Island.
  • Okra Plant with Flower Closeup Macro
  • loofah plant, loofah flower or gourd plant or okra plant with blue sky background
  • Okras on the okra plants; okra or okro (ladies Finger) known in many countries as ladies’ fingers or ochro, is a flowering plant in the mallow family
  • Fruit of red okra or roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on the plant and used in confectionery, Thailand
  • Okra plant flowering
  • okra plant that has plenty of fruit
  • Okra
  • Home grown organic okra plant with it pods
  • Okra flowers ,ledy finger flower in plant
  • Young Okra Plant (Lady Finger) at farm field
  • Okra plant and flower in bloom against blue sky organic produce agriculture
  • Close up of Dried Okra in nature
  • Okra or okro, known in many English-speaking countries as ladies’ fingers or ochro, is a flowering plant in the mallow family.
  • Okra vegetable plant has a beautiful yellowish flower. If you don’t see it, you can never tell that the flower belongs to Okra plant. Very charming on
  • Okra seedlings growing in a seed tray
  • A healthy Okra plant seedling showing a healthy root system & ready for transplanting.
  • Vegetable ; bhindi ladies fingers okra abelmoschus esculentus hibiscus esculentus on plant
  • Okra on cutting board.
  • Fresh okra in bamboo basket at the farmer market in Mauritius Island.
  • Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus). Virginia, United States.
  • loofah plant, loofah flower or gourd plant or okra plant with blue sky background
  • Okras on the okra plants; okra or okro (ladies Finger) known in many countries as ladies’ fingers or ochro, is a flowering plant in the mallow family
  • Fruit of red okra or roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on the plant and used in confectionery, Thailand
  • Okra plant – fruit of green okra on tree in natural garden
  • okra plant that has plenty of fruit and still flowering
  • Okra
  • Okra flower and pods
  • Okra flowers, ledy finger flower in plant
  • Young Okra Plant (Lady Finger) at farm field
  • Okra plant and flower in bloom against blue sky organic produce agriculture square composition
  • Hand holding Dried Okra in nature
  • young green okra is growing on tree
  • Ladyfinger growing on plant (Abelmoschus esculentus)
  • Big Organic Okra On Its Plant
  • A healthy Okra plant seedling resting in a mans hand ready for transplanting.
  • Green okra, lady finger plant with flower, Pune, Maharashtra
  • Harvested Okra in basket ‘Abelmoschus esculentus’, Riverside County, California.

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Okra’s a strange little vegetable, the kind of thing you might not guess was edible if no one told you. Its prickly skin can sting your fingers, and slicing into it reveals little more than seeds and slime. I admit, if okra hadn’t been included in our CSA share these past few weeks, I would probably still be unacquainted with it—and I’m still not exactly in love.

But hey, I’m from New England. Okra’s a beloved staple in other regions, such as the American South, parts of Africa and the Mediterranean. According to the book “Food Culture in Sub-Saharan Africa,” by Fran Osseo-Asare:

“Okra is another indigenous West African vegetable that has spread globally. The English word ‘okra’ is derived from the Twi word ‘nkuruma’ and is famous in the United States as the thickening agent in the gumbo stews of Louisiana. The French word for okra is ‘gombo,’ which, like gumbo, derives from a Bantu word…When cut, it is…much valued for its mucilaginous or sticky properties.”

The okra plant, Abelmoschus esculentus, is a cousin of cotton in the mallow family. (Its hibiscus-like flowers inspired its original scientific name Hibiscus esculentus, but botanists later renamed it.) It’s a good source of vitamin C and fiber, as well as glutathione, an antioxidant with anticarcinogenic properties. Not all varieties have those sharp hairs on the outside of the pods, but if present, their sting can be quickly neutralized by hot water.

Here are a few ways to prepare okra:

1. Fried. Dredged in egg and cornmeal and fried to a golden crisp, it’s a “simple Southern classic.” Add a twist by making it curried.

2. Gumbo, of course. Try it with seafood, chicken and sausage, or no meat at all; there are a zillion recipes out there. If you’re short on time, see Cooking for Engineers’ version.

3. Oven-roasted. It can be simply flavored with olive oil, salt and pepper, or smothered with spices. Maybe, like Cooking Books blogger Andrea promises, this spicy version will make an okra believer out of me yet.

4. Stew. If you’re not crazy about okra on its own, try disguising it with stronger flavors and textures, as in this tomato-based lamb and okra stew or bamya, an Egyptian stew made with beef broth.

5. Pickles. Or, “wickles,” (wicked sweet and spicy pickles) as this blogger puts it. Spicy seems to be popular—Alton Brown’s recipe uses dried chilis and black peppercorns, and even Ladybird Johnson’s pickled okra recipe included hot peppers.

Do you like okra? If so, what’s your favorite way to make it?

We get a lot of questions on how to save seeds. Most of them are general seed saving questions, but most boil down to how to save seeds for the next year. Most of the seed packets have more seeds than will be used in one year, and most seeds are good for several years in proper storage conditions.

Please realize that seeds are meant to be planted, not stored!

We get a chuckle from the e-bay seed sellers and survivalist stores that proclaim their seeds are nitrogen flushed, vacuum packed in tin cans or aluminum foil pouches, and are good for 5 or 10 years.

That’s great, but if the seeds are tossed out in the unheated/uncooled garage for 3+ years- guess what?

They’re DEAD!

The temperature/humidity fluctuations shortens the life of the stored seeds drastically. Seeds are the plant’s mechanism for propagation and survival. They have evolved to survive for a short time- e.g. a winter or two- in the ground until the optimum conditions arrive to sprout.

For almost all domesticated varieties that are used for food, the optimum conditions mean next spring. There definitely are seeds that will last longer, but most are non-food plants. Throughout history people would collect and save seeds for the next year or two and have kept plant varieties alive for thousands of years.

Today we have methods to stabilize temperature and humidity; we have advantages in prolonging the life of the stored seed.

The best way to save seeds for future plantings are to keep the seeds in the original seed packets; that way you know where they came from, the name, planting instructions, etc. Then put them in clear Ziplock sandwich baggies with the date on the baggie.

This way you know when you started storing them.

Put all of the baggies in a gallon Ziplock and put it into the freezer.

“But won’t that hurt the seeds?”, people ask. Not at all!

This is why the Vavilov Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia uses liquid nitrogen to freeze seeds for a long time. This is also why the “Doomsday Vault” in Svalbard, Norway is located above the Arctic Circle and dug into the side of a mountain and several hundred feet down, to keep the vault below zero if the cooling system fails.

Your freezer is cold and has low humidity. You probably don’t go into the freezer several times a day like the refrigerator. Each time you open/shut the door, the outside air comes in, raising the temperature and humidity.

This isn’t good for your seeds if they are in the fridge. The freezer is more stable. Please understand the fridge is better than the garage or basement, but the freezer is even better, and you probably have space!

When time comes for planting next spring, take out the packets you will use, take out the seeds you will plant if there are a lot left, and put the bag back into the Ziplock and into the freezer. Let the seed to be planted come to room temperature before planting into the soil.

Most varieties will keep for 3+ years with no loss of germination.

There are exceptions, of course. Onion seeds are good for 1 year, no more, no matter the method of keeping. Garlic only grows from the bulb or clove, freezing kills it.

There are some other varieties that have a short life in storage, but don’t get too caught up in that. If you plant each year, you will be fine.

When you start to save your own seed, the same procedure applies- just be sure the seed is DRY, or else the freeze will expand any moisture in the seed and destroy it.

Label the bag with the name, date harvested, date stored and freeze it.

If you get into seed saving, or want a lot more information on the methods and details for each variety of vegetable, Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth is a wonderful book. It is not light reading, but if treated like a reference book or text book, you’ll do just fine.

Grow and Save Okra Seeds

The towering stalks of the okra plant provide height, texture, and color to the home garden. Both beautiful and productive, okra can be harvested for several weeks throughout the summer.

Time of Planting

Because okra germinates and grows best when planted in soil that has warmed above 80 degrees F, northern gardeners often start seeds in flats and transplant seedlings when the weather heats up. In warmer regions of the country, seeds are often direct-sown. Nicking the seed coat of okra seeds can help improve germination rates.

Spacing Requirements

Sow okra seeds ½ inch deep. When direct-sowing okra, space seeds 2 inches apart and thin to a final spacing of 12-18 inches apart.

Time to Germination

6-18 days

Special Considerations

Okra develops best in warm climates with warm nights, preferring temperatures between 68 and 95 degrees F.

Common Pests and Diseases

Okra can suffer from several pests and diseases, including cucumber beetles, white mold, Southern Blight, vascular wilt, bacterial spot, and powdery mildew. Growers in southern states should also protect against root knot nematode infestation.

When and How to Harvest

Okra pods are harvested for eating when they are young and immature, just after the flowers fade. Okra pods can be harvested every few days with pruning shears or a sharp knife. If pods are longer than 5 inches, they might be tough, though there are some varieties that grow longer than others and these may still be tender.

Eating

Refrigerate okra pods after harvest. Okra pods can be cooked just after harvest in stews, gumbos, or as a fried side dish. If you want to prolong this summer treat, okra pods can also be pickled, or steamed and frozen.

Storing

Okra lasts less than a week in the refrigerator.

How to Save Okra Seeds

Well suited to tropical and subtropical climates, okra is often associated with the Deep South, but it can be cultivated – even to seed maturity – throughout much of the United States. And okra’s ability to self-pollinated makes it a suitable crop for beginner seed savers, provided it receives the heat that it needs to flower and set seeds.

Life Cycle

Annual

Recommended Isolation Distance

Separate varieties by 500-1,600 feet.

Recommended Population Sizes

To ensure viable seeds, save seeds from at least 1 plant. When maintaining a variety over many generations, save seeds from 5-10 plants. If you’re saving seeds for genetic preservation of a rare variety, save seeds from 25 plants.

Assessing Seed Maturity

Okra pods continue to increase in size when left on the plant beyond the edible stage. Once the seeds inside are fully developed, the pods will begin to dry and should be harvested when they turn brown and brittle.

Just as the solitary flowers of okra open at different times, beginning at the base of the plant and progressing upward, so do pods mature in this same pattern. Individual fruits should be clipped from the plants as they mature and moved to a protected location. Pods can be laid out to dry on screens or landscape fabric, or they can be hung in mesh bags; they should be left to dry until they become brittle. Wearing gloves while harvesting and cleaning these spiny fruits helps prevent skin irritation.

Cleaning and Processing

Because okra seeds are large, they can be easily threshed by hand. Break the okra pods with your hands and work them until they release seeds. The stem end of the fruit can also be cut with a pruning sheers, allowing the seeds to pour out. The large seeds of okra are easy to separate from the chaff through screening and winnowing.

Storage and Viability

Store okra seeds in a cool, dark, and dry place protected from pests. When stored in these conditions, okra seeds will remain viable for 1-3 years.

Download the PDF

So your okra plant is flourishing and has started to bloom. Congrats! But when are the plants ready to harvest and how do you do it?

We’re here to help! We’ll walk you through the process and give you all of our tips and tricks, and then finish up with some preparation and recipe recommendations.

What You’ll Learn

  • Pod Formation
  • Harvesting
  • Seed Saving and Propagation
  • Tasty Recommendations

Pod Formation

When your chosen varieties approach maturity, pods begin to form. And they often grow quickly, within a few days after flowering.

Check on them daily, and when they reach about three inches in length, they should be at the peak of flavor and tenderness, ready to harvest. Some larger varieties may be able to hang around on the plant a little longer before they get tough.

Harvesting

Wear gloves and handle the pods as little as possible, to prevent softening before use and skin irritation. Even so-called “spineless” varieties may have some setulose growth, so don’t be surprised if you encounter these fine protrusions on pods, stems, and leaves.

If you find that they’re already woody when you pick at three inches, toss this harvest into a dish that’s going to be cooked low and slow, which may help to soften them a bit. Keep this knowledge in mind for your chosen variety (note it in your gardening journal!) and pick the rest when they’re 2 to 2 1/2 inches long instead.

Each time you pick, you encourage more growth, so harvest regularly.

Because okra roots have a fragile hold on the ground, it’s best to snip rather than snap the stems cleanly above each pod, leaving a bit to grasp.

It may be tempting to leave fruits on the plant to see how large they’ll get, but don’t – unless you plan to use them in a floral arrangement, or dry them for seeds.

The longer they grow, the tougher they are. The pods become woody, the spines firmer, and the stems harder to cut.

Seed Saving and Propagation

If you leave a generous length of stem, you may bunch your stems, wrap them with twine, and suspend them upside down to dry in a cool, dry location for use in everlasting floral arrangements.

This is also a good way to save seeds from open-pollinated varieties that will produce replicas of parent plants when sown next growing season.

If you’re growing in a warm climate, you may cut plants to the ground mid-season to let them grow up again for a fall crop.

Tasty Recommendations

People seem to love or hate okra, with no middle ground. Slimy, seed-filled pods just aren’t for everyone. However, with a few cooking tricks, you can make them not only palatable, but delicious.

To reduce the viscous quality of okra’s slimy mucilage, try soaking it in vinegar or lemon juice for about 30 minutes, or parboil it. Gently rinse and pat dry before use in recipes.

Don’t be surprised if your red types turn green, or at least a paler shade of red, during cooking.

Many people, especially in the American South, prepare the vegetable by frying it in a dredge of cornmeal. Some folks use an egg batter before dredging, and others use milk or buttermilk. If you’re not a fan of a heavy cornmeal coating, feel free to substitute half of it with flour.

Cornmeal-battered fried okra? Yes, please!

You may also prepare soaked or freshly picked okra by baking, roasting, or grilling it for a crisp texture, to be eaten that way or added to slow-cooked soups and stews. Just remember to add another thickener to your gumbo if you’ve prepped your harvest with another cooking method first, to reduce its gooeyness.

If you can tolerate the slime factor (or if you love it!) this is actually enhanced by contact with water in those classic stewed dishes. But quick cooking will preserve more of its healthy nutritional benefits.

If you’re more health conscious, roasted, baked, or grilled may be the way to go.

The Crispy Crunchy Okra at Trader Joe’s has become a popular snack among veggie lovers and the healthy snacking crowd. We’re not positive, but these crispy, whole pods seems to be freeze-dried. If you like, you might try dehydrating your own at home the low and slow way, in a food dehydrator.

Prior to dehydration, add a variety of seasonings and sea salt if you wish and eat them as a crispy snack. Or you can leave them unseasoned to use them in stews, where they’ll reconstitute and work as a thickening agent.

Seasoned and dehydrated okra spears make for a healthy snack.

Our sister site, Foodal, has articles to consult for information on pickling and canning vegetables that you may easily apply when you’ve got a bumper crop on your hands. Pickled okra makes a tasty addition to a charcuterie plate!

As for those well past their prime, the seeds inside may still be tender enough to cook and enjoy, and happen to make a nutritious substitute for coffee when roasted and brewed.

The tender young leaves are also edible, for a fresh addition to salads, or as a cooked side dish. And you can eat the pods raw as well, if you like.

For recipes that call for okra, visit Foodal, where you’ll find: “Cooking Southern Style with Healthy Variations,” and “Big Mama’s New Orleans Style Cosmopolitan Seafood Gumbo.”

What about you? Do you have any okra harvesting tips and tricks? Let us and the other readers know in the comments below!

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© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Uncredited photos via . With additional writing and editing by Mike Quinn and Allison Sidhu.

About Nan Schiller

Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!

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