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Okra, Roselle, Aibika, & Kenaf (Other Edible Hibiscus)
(Excerpts from "Okra, Roselle, Aibika and Kenaf From Seed To Supper"
2nd Edition)

      Okra, [OH-kruh] Hibiscus esculentus L. (syn. Abelmoschus esculentus) is of the Malvaceae or mallow family along with cotton, hollyhock, rose of Sharon and hibiscus. It is know by many names (AKA): Lady Fingers, Gombo, Okro, Ochro, Okoro, Quimgombo, bhindi, bindi, bamia bamiya, bamieh. (Chinese okra is a different food, luffa acutangula.)
A tall-growing, warm-season, annual vegetable, okra has large, attractive, hibiscus like yellow flowers; heart-shaped, lobed leaves with long stems attached to a thick woody stem. The fruit, a long generally ribbed fuzzy pod developing in the leaf axil, grows rapidly after flowering. The edible part is the fruit pod which varies in color from yellow to red to green.

      The upright plant averages between 3- and 6-feet or more with varieties for both temperate and tropical areas. Indigenous African varieties can grow to 12 feet tall, with a base stem 4 inches in diameter. It’s lobed leaves are generally hairy and may reach 11 inches in length. Okra is often grown as a perennial in many tropical areas. Cultivars vary in plant height, shape and color of the pod. Most cultivars are adapted to high temperatures and a wide range of soil types. Average temperatures of 68-80 º F are best for growth, flowering and pod development. Okra is tolerant to wide variation in rainfall. Some of the more common vatities are:

Green types

Annie Oakley - hybrid, spineless - bright green, angular pods - 53 to 55 days - cooler areas.
Blondy -  48-50 days, dwarf plant 3' high, spineless, ribbed, lime-green.
Clemson Spineless - uniform spineless - medium dark green, angular pods 5-6" long, large diameter, - 4 to 5 feet - 55 to 58 - very productive - most commonly available variety.
Dwarf Green Long Pod - 2 1/2 foot- days - container
Emerald - 58 to 60 days - spineless - dark green, smooth, round pods 5' tall, pods to 8" long, small diameter.
Lee - spineless - deep bright green, very straight angular pods - semi-dwarf - days.
Perkins Mammoth Long Pod, 60 days, plants 6 to 10' tall, pods 7-8" long, intense green.
Prelude (PVP) - open pol-linated - spineless - very dark glossy green fluted pods - can be harvested when pods are longer and still remain tender - 3-4' tall - 50 to 55 days.
KBe1 - The fruit is more than 15cm long, has five sections, and is green to yellowish in colour. Each plant yields 180-200g, that is about 14-105 fruits.

Red types

Burgundy - red pods - 4 foot - 60 days - good quality when mature
Red River- -red pods - large container - days
Red Okra - 55 to 65 days - 3 to 4' tall - bushy plants with 6 to 7" pods.
Red Velvet - similar to Red Okra.




      Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) also known as Sour-Sour, Red Sorell, Jamaican Sorell, Indian sorrel, Guinea sorrel, Queensland jelly plant, jelly okra, lemon bush, and Florida cranberry; oseille rouge, or oseille de Guinée (French); quimbombó chino, sereni, rosa de Jamaica, flor de Jamaica, Jamaica, agria, agrio de Guinea, quetmia ácida, viña and viñuela (Spanish): vinagreira, azeda de Guiné, cururú azédo, and quiabeiro azédo (Portuguese); zuring (Dutch - Surinam): bisap (Senegal); and as karkadé or carcadé (North Africa, Near East and in the European pharmaceutical and food-flavoring trades). The names 'flor de Jamaica' and 'hibiscus flores' are misleading because the calyces are sold, not the flowers.
      Roselle is a 5 to 7 foot high annual, with lobed leaves and yellow or buff (turning pink at end of day) blossoms with dark centers. Thick red flower calyces and protein rich leaves are the edible parts. Some of the more common varieties are:

Rico - relatively low-growing, spreading - simple and lobed leaves mostly 3-parted - yellow to buff flower - dark-red eye - golden-yellow pollen - mature calyx to 2 inches (5 cm) long and to 11/4 inches (3.2 cm) wide; bracts plump and stiffly horizontal - highest yields - juice and preserves of calyx and herbage rich-red.
Victor - more erect and robust plant to 7 foot (2.13 m) - yellow to buff flower - dark-red eye - golden-brown pollen - early blooming - mature calyces to 2 inches (5 cm) long slender and somewhat pointed apex - bracts long, slender and curved upward - juice rich-red.
Archer - more erect and robust plant to 7 foot (2.13 m) - yellow flower - deeper yellow eye - pale-brown pollen - early blooming - mature calyces to 11/2 inches long - high yield - juice nearly colorless to amber.

      Aibika Hibiscus (Abelmoschus) manihot, Aibika also known as, Bele (Fiji) Pele (Polynesia) and Ailan kapis (Vanuatu)
      A perennial in the tropics or an annual in cooler climates Aibika bears edible leaves on plants reaching 6 feet in height. Pale yellow flowers 6 inches across with dark centers make Aibika another attractive background plant. The leaves have a high level of leaf protein, iron, potassium, magnesium and calcium. They are eaten raw as salad, or mixed with other vegetable in a stew or as a cooked green vegetable. Aibika should not be cooked longer than 5 minutes and turned only once. The flavor is sweet and mucilaginous. Flower buds are consumed either raw or cooked.
      Give aibika a sunny location and moist soil, and it will be happy. As summer heats up, aibika will flourish.

      Kenaf Hibiscus (Abelmoschus) cannabinus, Kenaf, is usually cultivated for its fiber. In the home garden, it makes an attractive backgound plant. The young leaves have an acid flavor like sorrel and are cooked as a potherb or added to soups. Leaves are of two types; one deeply divided resembling hemp/marijuana and the other undivided resembling cotton. The seeds are roasted as a coffee substitute or ground into a flour and made into a kind of cake.
      Quick growing Kenaf reaches 12 - 14 feet in height in 4 or 5 months and yields 6 - 10 tons of dry fiber per acre. The fiber comes from the stalk in two different forms, the outer "bast" long fibers and the inner "core" short woody fibers which are used individually or in combination to manufacture products like paper, woven fabrics or industrial absorbents.
      Kanaf grows in most soil types with adequate irrigation. Plant seeds at 4 inch intervals for the average garden, 3 inch intervals for fiber production and 2 inch intervals for seed production. Kenaf will be happy no matter what you do as long as it is free of frost.

(Back to top) Okra / Roselle / Aibika / Kenaf / Recipes / Contents
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Selected Okra, Roselle, Aibika, & Kenaf Recipes
(Excerpts from "Okra, Roselle, Aibika and Kenaf From Seed To Supper"
2nd Edition)

Sprinkling okra with salt or soaking okra in salted cold water draws out the juices (or muciledge, the dietary fiber). The result is a light and crisp dish, but, without the nutritional benefit of dietary fiber.  
1 pound fresh okra.  
Cut off the ends and slice the rest into rounds. Put sliced okra in a bowl, sprinkle with salt (liberally), and cover with very cold water. Refrigerate an hour or so. In a small paper sack, mix
1/2  cup cornmeal with
salt and pepper, to taste
  Put the okra inside the bag, close the top, and shake until the okra is totally coated with the cornmeal. In an iron skillet, heat 1/2 inch of  
oil, bacon grease, lard, or a mixture thereof  
  Put the okra inside the bag, close the top, and shake until the okra is totally coated with the cornmeal.  
  Add okra and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 6 minutes.  
  In a heat-proof bowl, combine  
12 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) dried sorrel calyxes
2 1-inch cubes of peeled fresh ginger, chopped fine
3 whole cloves
  In a saucepan, bring  
5 cups (of 5 3/4 cups total) water  
  to a boil, pour it over the sorrel mixture, and let the mixture steep for 4 hours or overnight. While the mixture is steeping, in a small saucepan bring the remaining 3/4 cup water and  
3/4 cup sugar  
to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, and let the syrup cool. Strain the sorrel liquid into a pitcher, discarding the solids, stir in the sugar syrup
11/2 cups amber rum and
2 cups ice cubes, or to taste
  Garnish with  
lime and orange slices.  
Makes about 8 cups.  

In southern and my cooking, okra with tomatoes is a favorite. Adding 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil to this and the following 3 recipes makes a nice, but, not necessary change of flavor.  
  In a sauté pan or heavy non-reactive skillet, heat  
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or bacon grease.  
1 onion, chopped  
  3 to 4 minutes or until soft. Wash and trim  
1 pound okra.  
  Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Add to onions and sauté another 5 to 6 minutes or until okra begins to brown. Stir in  
3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped or
1 pound can chopped tomatoes with
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper, to taste.
  cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes or until thickened.  
Makes 4 to 6 servings.  


6 or 8 bele leaves in
boiling salted water
for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine
1/4 cup coconut creme with
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and black pepper
to taste.
  In a salad bowl, toss cooked bele leaves with prepared coconut creme dressing and top with  
several half slices red onions and
several shreds of smoked fish
  Serve sprinkled with  

fresh lemon juice.


Makes 1 salad.


(Back to top) Okra / Roselle / Aibika / Kenaf / Recipes / Contents
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Okra, Roselle, Aibika, & Kenaf (Other Edible Hibiscus) Contents
(from "Okra, Roselle, Aibika and Kenaf From Seed To Supper"
2nd Edition)

  Soil Preparation
Pests And Diseases
Cooler Climates
Nutritional Breakdown
Cooking Methods
  Prepare Okra
Deep Fried
  Fried Okra Poppers
Fried Okra Fingers
  Okra Aioli  
  Okra Salad
Fried Okra And Potato Salad
Piquant Okra Salad
  Okra Soup
Shaker Okra Soup
Onion Soup With Okra Parmesan Bread
Side Dishes  
  Fried Okra
Southern Fried Okra
Cajun Fried Okra
Deep Fried Okra
Stir-fry Okra
Okra Tempura
Okra Fritters
Okra And Tomatoes
Okra Tomatoes And Corn
Okra, Tomatoes And Bell Peppers
Okra Succotash
Okra In Tomato Sauce
Stewed Okra With Small Onions
Baby Okra In Tomato Sauce
Okra, Tomatoes And Corn Broil
Scalloped Okra And Corn
Cajun Style Corn And Tomato W/Fried Okra
Smothered Okra, Eggplant And Tomato
Okra Au Gratin
Dilled Okra

  Limpin’ Susie
New Orleans Vegetable Stew
Okra Curry
Curry Spices
Okra And Beef Curry
Main Dishes  
  Gumbo Intro
Gumbo (Shrimp Broth Base)
Seafood And Sausage Gumbo
Gumbo File #1
Cajun-Style White Rice
Chicken Gumbo (Chicken Broth Base)
Chicken, Sausage And Okra Gumbo
Duck And Sausage Gumbo
Spicy Gumbo-laya
Chicken File Gumbo
Bamia (Beef And Okra Casserole)
Lamb Stew With Okra And Green Pepper
Lamb Stew With Okra And Fruit
Okra And Shrimp
Brown And White Rice
  Spicy Pickled Okra
Pickled Dill Okra
Mustard Okra Pickles
Okra And Onion Pickle
Japanese Okra Onion Pickle (Sokra Shoyu-zuke)
Okra Oil
Okra Coffee
Other Family Members
  Hibiscus Sabdiffa - Rossel
     Pests And Diseases
Nutritional Breakdown
Flowers And Buds
Roselle Fruit (Calyces)
Medicinal Uses
Roselle Drinks
Hibiscus Tea
Jamaican Sorrel Rum Punch
Australian Native Hibiscus Preserves
Roselle Sauce
Hibiscus Cannabinus - Kenaf
Hibiscus Manihot - Aibika (Edible Hibiscus)
  Aibika Greens
Aibika Greens With Sesame Seeds
Fiji Salad - Bele Leaves And Smoked Fish

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Okra, Roselle, Aibika & Kanaf From Seed To Supper
2nd Edition
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Okra, Roselle, Aibika & Kanaf From Seed To Supper
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