The July Fruit of the Month is Okra!
Okra isn’t native to the midwest, but it’s still a yummy fruit we all get to enjoy. Okra is a flowering plant that is almost entirely edible—really! You can eat almost the entire plant! If you’ve ever had gumbo before, you’ve likely tried this delicious food. If not, there are plenty of other ways to incorporate okra into your meals. Keep reading to learn more about okra and how to enjoy it at home.
An Okra is a Great Source of:
- Fiber—great for liver and digestive health
- Vitamin B6—essential for a healthy nervous system, skin, muscles, and blood
- Zinc—for an optimal immune system, wound healing, thyroid function (and more!)
- Antioxidants—for a boost to the immune system
- Vitamin K—known to help decrease the risk of certain cancers
Did You Know?
- Okra has an aroma that smells like cloves!
- The leaves, buds, flowers, pods, stems, and seeds of okra are all edible.
- Okra is recognized most widely as a vegetable, but since it has seeds it’s actually a fruit!
- It can be found in grocery stores year-round, but it is in season in late summer/early fall.
How to Harvest and Store Okra
Okra is ready to eat when it’s firm and brightly colored. Unwashed and whole, store okra in the fridge for up to 5 days in a container that is not airtight. Once the ridges and tip of the okra start to turn dark in color, it should be thrown out. Okra can also be frozen for long-term storage.
Tips to Get Children to Eat Okra
- Eat it raw with their favorite condiment, like ranch!
- Add it to a fruit smoothie!
- Okra can be pickled and can be a fun (and yummy!) experience for both children and adults.
- Cook in an air fryer for a crispier texture!
- The inside of a raw okra can be slimy if you slice it and leave it to sit. To eliminate this, serve cooked! Sautéing okra in a pan coated in oil will eliminate the slimy texture.
Ways to Eat Okra
Let’s Get Cooking
Okra with Corn and Tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ tsp thyme
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp basil
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
- 3 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 2 cups corn, fresh, frozen, or canned
- 2 cups small okra pods (2-inch pods), whole or in ¼-inch thick rounds
- ½ cup water or chicken stock
- ¾ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- In a 10-inch iron skillet or heavy pan, heat olive oil. Add onions, bay leaves, thyme, basil, and red pepper flakes.
- Sauté and stir until onions are limp. Add bell pepper and continue cooking until onions are translucent.
- Add tomatoes, okra, water, salt, and pepper.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add corn and cook for 5 minutes.
- Season to taste if needed.
- Serve hot on top of rice or pasta if desired.
Lite Fried Okra
- 2 cups okra, fresh and sliced
- ¾ tsp vegetable oil
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp pepper
- Cooking spray
- In a bowl, mix sliced okra, oil, salt, and pepper.
- Coat a large iron skillet or heavy pan with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat and add okra mixture.
- Turn the contents of the pan often with a wooden spoon or spatula. Cook until the okra is browned, about 10 minutes.
- Serve with hot sauce or favorite relish.
For more creative okra-based recipes visit MyPlate Kitchen! With so many possibilities, like Spicy Okra, Veggie Stir-Fry with Turkey, and Okra and Greens you’re sure to find something that is tasty for the whole family!
Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!