Growing and Cooking Okra

A guide to growing and cooking okra, includes tips on growing okra, drying okra and recipes for pickling okra and okra soup.

| September/October 1977

  • Learn about growing and cooking okra.
    Learn about growing and cooking okra.
    Photo By J. Weiland

  • Learn about growing and cooking okra.

You don't have to live in the south when it comes to growing and cooking okra.

Okra Recipes

Okra Soup Recipe
Pickled Okra Recipe

Growing and Cooking Okra

Southern cooks have long recognized okra (or "gumbo", as we also call it) as a staple in the kitchen, and there's hardly a summer garden in the Southeast that doesn't boast at least one planting of Hibiscus esculentus.

The notion that okra can (or should) be grown only in the South, however, is both incorrect and unfortunate. Incorrect, because okra can be cultivated successfully as far north as Michigan . . . and unfortunate, because a steaming-hot bowl of shrimp gumbo would taste as delightful in any northern home as it does in my South Carolina kitchen!

And — in addition to its value as a food-bearing plant — okra (like any other hibiscus) — is also a beautiful ornamental. (Many folks who can't spare room in their gardens for the 5 foot-tall standard varieties of okra make space in their flower borders for 3 foot-tall dwarfs.) Few people suspect that the burgundy-throated yellow blossoms borne by this plant give rise to a steady harvest of edible pods throughout summer and into the fall frosts.

Why not add a little variety to your vegetable menu (and beauty to your garden) next season by growing some okra? Okra culture is neither difficult nor complicated . . . and the eventual rewards — in taste, nutrition, and a prettier garden — are well worth the small amount of effort involved.

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