Thursday, August 18, 2011

WHAT'S IN BLOOM? Mystery Plant? Do you know?

Abelmoschus esculentus
This flower is on a plant related to the hibiscus.  In some countries it is known as 'Lady's Fingers'.  It produces an edible pod.  It is very drought and heat resistant.  What is it's common name?

So how often do you get a big, beautiful flowering plant that also has edible parts?  Okra pods are fast growing and may require daily pickings.  Our okra in the vegetable plot at the Arboretum is going full steam right now.   The pods are best harvested at 3-4" long after that they tend to become tough. What about the "goo" when cooked?  This is a plus when making gumbo, not so much in other recipes.  Several hints found to minimize this are to leave them whole, sprinkle with lime or lemon juice, and cook quickly.  Here are some recipes from NCSU's Produce Lady if you are ready to try some healthier ways to prepare this vegetable.  You'll have to scroll down a bit once you go to the link for the okra ones.

For more on this good-for-you vegetable click here to read what a former Extension Master Gardener from Mecklenburg County wrote about growing, harvesting, and preparing okra.