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An A to Z guide to choosing, storing, preparing, and cooking fresh produce and recipe ingredients.

  • How to Choose Okra 
    Look for young, small pods no more than 4 inches in length (larger pods tend to be tough and stringy). Choose specimens that are firm, unblemished, and bright in color. Green is most common, but you may encounter red or deep burgundy varieties. Pass up any that are limp or bruised. Frozen okra is a ready substitute for fresh, while canned okra is best used in stews.

  • How to Store Okra 
    Store unwashed okra in a paper bag in the warmest part of the refrigerator for up to 3 days (overly cold temperatures can speed decay).

    How to Prepare Okra 
    Wash the pods and pat dry. Trim the stems, taking care not to pierce the pods if using whole. For faster cooking, cut pods crosswise into star-shaped cubes.

  • How to Use Okra 
    When cooked, okra releases mucilage, a substance that helps it retain water but which many find slimy. Minimize the oozing by cooking quickly using dry cooking methods (baking, frying). Okra’s mucilage works to the cook’s advantage as a natural thickener when added to soups and stews, particularly gumbo.

    —Melinda Page

    Real Simple Okra Recipes:

    See all Okra recipes »

What's your favorite okra recipe?

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