Local Food Newsletter – July

— Written By and last updated by

Welcome to N.C. Cooperative Extension, Currituck County Center’s Local Foods Newsletter! This month’s edition will be focused on okra. Enclosed you will find fun facts on okra including: origin, planting information, harvesting information, nutrition, storing, recipes, and more! An interactive map is included below that is linked with Google maps. This map allows the user to click on their desired local foods operation and be given directions to the business. Following the map is a quick-reference table containing the local businesses in the area that sell local okra. Don’t forget to check out our upcoming local food classes for cooking and gardening with herbs and container greens! For email reminders of upcoming Local Foods newsletters fill out this short form.

pics of fruits and veggies in season-July

Food Highlight


Fun Fact. This month’s highlighted local food is okra. Okra goes by multiple names including gumbo in the southern U.S. and ladies’ fingers throughout Europe and Asia. These cotton relatives are originally from Africa and produce beautiful flowers similar to a hibiscus flower. Once flowers are pollinated, these plants produce long, seed-filled pods. These pods are often regarded as slimy, due to the mucilage produced by the plants. This film is edible and is common in many other plants such as cacti and aloe vera. 

okra

Planting. If you’re interested in planting okra, you are in luck because many of the growing conditions required by the plant are easily achievable here in Currituck. First, okra does well in sandy loam soils, abundant in spots here in the county. Okra is also a warm-season crop that does well in warm to hot temperatures. Because of this, okra is best planted once soils have warmed in May. You can extend your okra crop by cutting back the plants in early summer to allow the plants to rejuvenate and produce a fall crop. Cut plants with a weedeater or mower 6 to 8 inches above the ground. Fertilize with 15-0-14, 8-0-24 or 13-0-44 (gardeners at 6 ounces per 100 feet of row) to encourage regrowth and side branches. Fall yields of cutback crops will often exceed spring crops or yield of non-cutback crops.   

okra plant

Harvest. The plant will continue to produce pods so long as they are removed. Mature pods left on the plant will reduce flowering and fruit set. Generally, pods should be harvested when they are 2.5 to 3.5 inches long. Because of the speed of pod growth, okra should be harvested every other day. Overly mature pods become tough and woody, greatly reducing their taste. Most pods are ready for harvesting 4 to 6 days after the flower opens. When harvesting, pickers should wear gloves and long sleeves as okra have small spines that can cause irritation and rashing.

Cooking Spotlight 


Nutritional information. Okra is a powerhouse of valuable nutrients. Nearly half of which is soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps to lower cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease. The other half is insoluble fiber which helps to keep the intestinal tract healthy decreasing the risk of some forms of cancer, especially colorectal cancer. Nearly 10% of the recommended levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid are also present in a half cup of cooked okra.

Nutrition Facts (1/2 cup sliced, cooked okra)

  • Calories: 25
  • Dietary Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 1.52 g
  • Carbohydrates: 5.76 g
  • Vitamin A: 460 IU
  • Vitamin C: 13.04 mg
  • Folic acid: 36.5 µg
  • Calcium: 50.4 mg
  • Iron: 0.4 mg
  • Potassium: 256.6 mg
  • Magnesium: 46 mg

Storing. Refrigerate unwashed, dry okra pods in the vegetable crisper, loosely wrapped in perforated plastic bags. Wet pods will quickly mold and become slimy. Okra will keep for only two or three days. When the ridges and tips of the pod begin to turn dark, use it or lose it. Once it starts to darken, okra will quickly deteriorate.

Freezing is the best method for long term home storage of okra. Freeze only young, tender okra. Okra must be blanched before freezing, as with all vegetables. Unblanched okra will quickly become tough and suffer huge nutrient, flavor and color loss during freezing. To blanch and freeze, bring about 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Wash and trim off stems of okra pods, leaving caps whole. Blanch no more than one pound of okra at a time. Drop pods into boiling water and immediately cover with a tight-fitting lid. Blanch pods for four minutes, remove, and submerge the okra into an ice water bath for 5 min. or until completely cool. Once cool, remove from water and drain. Freeze for up to one year at 32°F or below.

Grilled Okra 


Serves 4 | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 6 minutes | Total Time: 11 minutes

 Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Okra 
  • Salt 
  • Pepper 
  • Favorite Seasonings 
  • Olive Oil 
  • Skewers 

Directions:

  1. Soak skewers for up to 30 minutes prior to using them.
  2. Preheat grill to 450℉
  3. Cut the tops off okra 
  4. Brush or drizzle with olive oil 
  5. Season to your tastes
  6. Place okra on pre-soaked skewers
  7. Flip after 5 minutes 
  8. After an additional 5 minutes remove from grill and enjoy!

Upcoming Local Foods Events 


Join us for one of our local foods cooking and gardening classes. Registration will be coming to our website soon, but go ahead and reserve these dates on your calendar. 

Cooking and Gardening with Herbs 

Do you love cooking with Herbs? Would you love to cook with herbs year-round? Well, this is the class for you! Gardening and Cooking with Herbs will be held on Thursday, August 22nd from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Create a windowsill herb garden, then learn to cook with the herbs you planted. Class fee is $20.00 and includes lunch as well as your own windowsill garden. 

Cooking and Gardening with Container Greens 

Do you love eating greens picked fresh from the garden? Got a bumper crop of them and don’t know what to do? Well, this is the class for you! The N.C. Cooperative Extension, Currituck County Center is having a “Gardening and Cooking with Container Greens” class on Wednesday, September 11, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Registration and a class fee of $20.00 are required.



This interactive map contains many of the businesses in Currituck that sell local produce. To view the map legend, click the small square box at the left of the map name. This should bring up a list of the direct sale markets, pick-your-own operations, roadside markets, vineyards and breweries, and N.C. seafood operations on the left. You can then click on the pins on the map or on the legend to view each local business. Each listing will contain a contact number, operating season and hours, and produce the business sells. If you click the View in Google Maps option below the description you will be given directions to the business from your current location.

Highlighted Businesses


 

The highlighted business section shows the businesses that sell the month’s highlighted local food. This month we have eight businesses that will be open and selling okra. Information on those businesses can be found in the table below, or in the interactive map above.

 

Name Phone Hours Address
Seaside Farm Market (252) 619-8285 M-Su, 8 a.m.–8 p.m. 787 Sunset Blvd., Corolla
Tar Heel Produce (252) 491-8600 7 a.m.–6 p.m. 6954 Caratoke Hwy, Grandy
Powell’s Roadside Market (252) 339-9923 7 a.m.–8 p.m. 2138 Caratoke Hwy, Moyock
Grandy Greenhouse & Farm Market (252) 453-2658 7 a.m.–7 p.m. 6264 Caratoke Hwy, Grandy
Morris Farm Market (252) 453-2837 9 a.m.–6 p.m. 3784 Caratoke Hwy, Maple
Coinjock Creek Farms (252) 267-3332 Sunrise – Sunset 112 Maple Rd., Maple
Roberts Ridge Farm (252) 202-9665 M-S, 7 a.m.–7 p.m. 501 N Indiantown Rd., Shawboro
Martin Farm & Winery (252) 429-3564 Vary, please call 213 Martin Farm Ln, Knotts Island

For email reminders of upcoming Local Foods newsletters fill out this short form. If you have a local food operation you would like advertised in upcoming installments, please fill out our producer form or contact Adam Formella by email or phone at Adam_Formella@ncsu.edu or 252-232-2262.