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If you don’t live in the south, chances are you have never heard of okra, as this earthy vegetables grows mostly in warmer climates. The origin of okra is somewhat murky, but is believed to have originated in Ethiopia, and was then cultivated by the ancient Egyptians around 800 years ago, where it was treasured for its medicinal value. Used as a coffee substitute, okra seeds were toasted and ground. Most likely brought by slaves from West Africa in the 1700s, Louisiana Creoles used okra in their gumbo and to thicken soups, where it is still known as a signature dish to the region, thanks to famous chef Emeril Lagasse.
Okra can be pickled, and is delicious fried and served with a Creole sauce; it also makes a delicious addition to rice, stews and vegetable dishes. First served by the Chocktaw Indians, gumbo is a delicious stew composed of okra, tomatoes, onion, shrimp, crabmeat, sausage, chicken, or oysters. Most people fry, boil or steam okra, as it can be somewhat chewy otherwise.
Mostly composed of water, this seed pod contains both carbohydrates and proteins, and is packed with fiber, vitamins A, C, K, folic acid, potassium, calcium and magnesium, and is known to reduce asthma, heal skin tissue and enhance collagen growth to give you a glowing complexion. The high fiber content aids digestion and prevents colon cancer, by keeping the colon free from toxins.
Okra seeds can be planed in the spring or early summer after the last chance of frost, in full sunshine with regular watering. Order your St. Clare Heirloom okra seeds and add some southern cooking to your table!
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