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THE FRONT BURNER

FLS reporter Katie Thisdell serves up news on local food finds, tales from home cooks and inspiration to help you have fun in your own kitchen.

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What’s coming up: Okra

The Free Lance-Star food section and the Front Burner blog are reviving a popular feature from years past. Each week we will feature a vegetable or fruit that is in season in our area and offer tips on selection and cooking. Here on the blog, please feel free to offer your own serving suggestions for these seasonal delights!

This week’s feature: Okra

When it’s fresh here: August

Fun fact: The edible fruit of the okra plant is the long, finger-like seed pod, but before that emerges, the plants produce attractive, creamy-colored flowers with deep red centers. The plant is related to the hibiscus.

Pick and choose: Choose pods that are free of bruises and are tender without being overly soft. Avoid pods more than four inches long.

Quick serving ideas:

  • To freeze okra for storage, first submerge it in boiling water for two minutes, then quickly dunk it in ice water. Remove the pods to a freezer-safe container, where they may be stored for up to a year.
  • Whole okra pods are great for pickling.
  • Some folks don’t like the thick “goo” that comes with okra, but it’s this substance that makes the vegetable so great for thickening soups, stews and gumbos. In some countries, the vegetable itself is actually referred to as gumbo.

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Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/frontburner/2011/08/24/948/