From Old World to New World

A traditional vegetable finds new uses.

Abelmoschus esculentus


Okra was a common vegetable throughout Africa. By the early 1700s it had arrived in New Orleans. For African Americans, okra was food, drink, and medicine. They used the pods to thicken soups and stews and brewed the seeds into a coffee substitute. They also used the plant medicinally to end pregnancies. The plant can irritate the skin.

beware iconPlant is toxic.

Present Use

You may not know it, but you are eating okra in commercial foods such as candies, salad dressings, and cheese spreads. Southern cooks use it in soups, stews, gumbos, and Creole dishes; they also dip it in cornmeal and fry it.

From Old World to New World Medical Technology


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