Fun Facts About Okra, a Southern Staple

August 2019

Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) - valued for its edible green seedpods prepared in myriad ways, enjoy eating this tasty Southern staple into autumn

- Thought to be introduced to the southeastern United States from Africa in the early 18th century.

- As a member of the mallow family, it is related to such species as hollyhock, cotton and hibiscus. Its flower looks very similar to the hibiscus flower.

- Products of the plant are mucilaginous, resulting in the characteristic slime or “goo” when the pods are cooked.

- Very mature/old okra is used to make rope and paper.

- Buy okra when it’s firm and keep it dry. Don’t wash it until you’re ready to use it, or it can become slimy.

- Okra seeds can be roasted and ground to form a caffeine-free substitute for coffee, which was often consumed by soldiers during the Civil War.