Fresh okra for baking or frying is one of the staples of summer we all know and love. However, we often overlook the health benefits of okra as well as some atypical ways to prepare it. Keep reading for nutritional information, recipes, and preservation techniques for this fun summer vegetable!
Okra, aside from being very low in calories, is full of healthy vitamins and minerals. It has very high Vitamins A, C and K contents and also provides a healthy dose of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, xanthin, and lutein. Okra is also very fiber-rich and contains essential minerals such as iron, calcium, manganese, and magnesium.
These vitamins and minerals translate into a number of health benefits. The vitamin A content in okra has been proven to help reduce the risk of lung and oral cancer. Vitamin C increases immune system function and can help reduce the likelihood of catching colds or flus. Vitamin K helps blood clotting and strengthens bones. Okra’s high fiber content and low calorie content make it an excellent choice for those trying to increase digestive health or lose weight as well.
Okra can be frozen a number of ways. AS with any vegetable, you should wash and dry your okra before hand and make sure you are only using the freshest okra to freeze. This will ensure that it holds up well in the freezer.
After blanching, you have several options for how to freeze your okra. Okra can be frozen whole, which is recommended to increase storage time and preserve vitamin content. Alternatively, okra can be cut in halves and frozen that way (please note that this decrease the time the okra will last in the freezer).
Another option for preserving okra is to fry okra and then freeze it. To do so, fry okra as you normally would, then spread on a baking sheet and freeze before placing into a plastic baggie for storage.
Toss together fried okra, coarsely chopped tomatoes, diced red onion, chopped fresh basil, and red wine vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
Smashed Fried Okra
1. Use a meat mallet to smash okra, starting at tip of pod and working toward stem end. Place buttermilk in a shallow dish, and place cornmeal in another shallow dish. Stir desired amount of salt and pepper into buttermilk and cornmeal. Dip okra in buttermilk; dredge in cornmeal, shaking off excess.
2. Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a large Dutch oven; heat to 350°. Fry okra, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes or until brown and crisp, turning once. Remove okra, using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Add salt and pepper to taste; serve.