With many of our fall crops now planted and much more open field ready and waiting, it feels like a fresh start. Us farmers are feeling rejuvenated and ready for the change of the seasons. This week, we've begun harvesting our first winter squash: spaghetti and delicata. We are letting them cure in the barn, but if they are ready, some of you might get a taste this week. Tomatoes are still very plentiful, with different varieties (like New Girl and Cherokee Purple) beginning to ripen now. We're hoping that they will hold off the blight and wet roots and continue producing well into September. Our okra is also really taking off with the recent sun, and most of the plants are about 8 ft tall! While we're talking about okra, here are a few fun facts:
*It comes from either South Asia or Africa - its exact origin is unknown. It came to North America in the early 1700's and has become a southern food staple. Some people have suggested that the seeds were brought over by enslaved Africans.
*The pods are extremely healthy (depending on how they are cooked, of course...). They are high in fiber, folate, calcium, potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
*The white seeds inside are very high in healthy, unsaturated fats (up to 40% of the seed) and have been considered for use as a biofuel.
*The entire okra plant is edible.
*A caffiene-free coffee substitute can be made from the dried, ground seeds.
*Though the mucilaginous (slimy) texture of okra is off-putting to some, many others enjoy it. If you wish to reduce the "slime effect", eat the pods raw, cook them whole, cook them quickly, or cook with something acidic like citrus or tomatoes.
*They are not extremely productive, producing perhaps a pound of pods per plant over the course of the season. They are also tedious to harvest and the tiny spines on the plant will often make the lucky harvester develop an unpleasant itch.
*We are growing four varieties. Hill Country Red (and heirloom from South Texas with a red tip), Star Of David (produces fat, green pods with a beautiful, star-shaped cross-section), Clemson Spineless (the most popular green okra, selected during the 1930's at Clemson U.), and Red Burgundy (developed at Clemson U. in 1983, it has bright red pods, and is longer than other varieties).
I think that I've mentioned this before, but you have to try it. Cut your okra pods lengthwise, toss with oil and spices, and roast in the oven. Treat snap beans the same way. Delish!