Ground Okra: A West African Ingredient

Is your garden teeming with okra right now? If so, you can easily make a pantry item that will keep for the rest of the year and come in handy in soups and sauces come winter. Just take a hint from West African cooking:

Ground okra is a staple of West African dishes. You know the gooey, slimy texture of cooked okra? Well, that same characteristic makes it an awesome thickener for sauces and soups. Some gumbos use okra as a thickener (the word gumbo actually means okra in some African dialects).

To make ground okra yourself, pick it, wash it, stem it. Then put it in a dehydrator until it is completely dried out (one could presumably do this in an oven set to a very low temperature for a very long time, though I have no experience with this). Then grind it up in a coffee or spice grinder and store well-sealed in a cool, dark cabinet.

If you prefer not to make it yourself, the powder can always be purchased, like the jar pictured above from UNIKeats by Morou.

Related: Five Communal Dishes from Mauritania

(Image: UNIKeats by Morou)

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Regina is an architect who lives with her husband and children in Lawrence, KS. As a LEED Accredited Professional and longtime contributor to Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn, her focus is on healthy, sustainable living through design.

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