The World’s Most Beautiful Okra

If you live in a warm climate, okra is easy to grow and both beautiful and tasty. I spotted this variety growing at the Huntington Ranch: Burgundy Okra from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.The stems and seed pods are a deep and vibrant burgundy–a very stunning plant for your vegetable garden.

While not as striking, this year I grew Clemson Spineless okra from seeds I saved. And thanks to a tip (can’t remember where I heard this) I’m having an easier time harvesting the pods. One of the problems with a small patch of okra is that, initially, you get a sporadic harvest. And you’ve got to pick the pods before they get too big and tough. So I’ve been picking a few and day and tossing them in a bag in the freezer until I have enough to cook with.

As for cooking okra I leave the pods whole as I ve been told this reduces the sliminess some people find objectionable. And pile on the spices! My favorite recipe is this Iraqi stew called Bamia. Bamia and rice makes for the perfect late summer dinner.

Mrs. Homegrown here:

I just had to second this post–this is an outstanding, gorgeous plant, pretty enough to be purely ornamental. The picture above doesn’t sell it. Let’s just say that the second I saw it in the Huntington Ranch, I said, “We’re planting that next year.”

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  1. That is beautiful okra indeed. Maybe I’ll try that one next year. And maybe in the hoop house for a longer season. This was the first year I grew okra, and I don’t think our plants were very happy, though they did produce. I learned to check them every day, like zucchini. I mostly used them in Thai-ish stir-fries with rice noodles. The sliminess just worked well with the noodles and other vegetables, like it was supposed to be that way.

  2. I planted three okra varieties this year: Clemson Spineless, Burgundy, and Hill Country Red. The Burgundy was painfully slow to emerge, but it eventually produced sturdy plants with sleek pods. I’m still harvesting here in Piedmont NC. I plan to dehydrate remaining pods and blend to a powder suitable for thickening soups and stews this winter. Best wishes!

  3. You cannot fool me. Okra is okra. Not touching it…lol. You can eat the greens. In Africa, they laugh at Westerners for eating the seed pods and leaving the good part behind. Have you tried cooking the greens? Don’t ask me how, because I am not going there either. Stores carry pickled okra, so maybe that is a way to go also.

  4. I didn’t get around to planting okra this year, but I got a nice green variety from Baker Creek last year, which was pretty darn prolific. And I know what you mean about these getting big and tough, holy cow. At the end of the season I just let them grow out and wound up feeding the fat seeds to the chickens, who no doubt planted some for me except the weather wasn’t warm enough for them to germinate at the right time.

  5. Okra and tomatoes are a great combination, and not slimy at all. I’ve been making it from my CSA basket for weeks! (Personally I haven’t had any variety other than Clemson Spineless, but in South Carolina they’re the hometown favorite!)

    Okra and cumin are BFFs and I’m really excited to try the Bamia recipe.

    I don’t really agree that Africans laugh at Westerners for eating the seed pods. Okra (pods) are eaten over a huge part of the world, Africa, Middle East, Asia, the Carribean, not to mention in the US. If we’re truly “leaving the good part behind” (and if you believe that, you haven’t tasted my okra & tomatoes) — it’s not just silly Westerners making the mistake! 😛

  6. From what I’ve read, okra is a great source of protein (seeds) and fiber (obvious), and I learned a deep and abiding love for okra while living in Florida. My favorite way is fried- I’d rather eat a mess of fried okra than popcorn- but another fast, easy and really yummy way is in okra and tomatoes, which is really more accurately described as okra, tomatoes, bacon, and onions over rice: start your rice water and then brown 4 or 5 slices of cut up bacon in a saucepan- once you get some fat rendered and the bacon’s browning add a chopped onion- once the onion’s translucent (your rice water should be boiling rice now so add your rice to it and get it simmering) add a bag of frozen okra or the equivalent of fresh (like maybe two cups) sliced okra and a can of stewed chopped tomatoes- stir it up, put a lid on it, turn the heat down and simmer it as long as the rice takes to cook (roughly 20 minutes) – serve the okra and tomatoes over the rice- this is so good that I think I’ll go looking for frozen okra because I miss this dish and I certainly can’t grow okra up here in the Portland OR area because the summers are getting shorter and cooler which doesn’t work for okra. But yeah; okra’s good eats.

  7. Okay, I got the information about Africans laughing at Westerners for eating the pod and leaving the greens from Westerners who were living in Africa. So, they are wrong? I have no idea. I don’t eat okra. I don’t like it all, no matter how it is prepared.

  8. Roast it! If you toss the okra in a bit of oil and salt and throw in the oven at 350 until its brown and roasty (about 15 minutes I think?) it won’t be slimy at all! Lovely dipped in some yogurt mixed with mustard or sriracha. Pickled is fabulous too though.

  9. I love okra, grew up in Oklahoma and have had it every way. Of course this was just standard “garden variety” (no pun intended) okra. I LOVE the look of this. If I can finally get our gardens built this Fall, I’ll plant some next Spring (at least that’s what I tell myself on our blog, ha). Thanks for sharing the info! Love your blog by the way, it’s very inspiring to me!

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