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Fresh Okra Infusion (Abelmoschus esclentus)

Those who know these green, ridged, finger-like vegetables might call them okra, lady’s fingers or gumbo. Okra, the name most familiar to us here in UK, is believed to have derived from the Ghanaian Twi-language word ‘nkruman.’

Okra are the unripe seed-pods of an herbaceous flowering annual (Abelmoschus or Hibiscus esculentus) of the malva family (Malvaceae). The flowers are tubular with reddish centres. The seed-pods grow on hairy stalks and are picked before they are fully matured.

Popular in Indian, Caribbean and African cooking, the vegetables can be fried in oil, or boiled, but they’re most often used as thickener for soups and broths due to the generous amount of gelatinous mucilage they contain. Poultices made from the plant are used in some countries to relieve pain.

The secret to boiling okra for culinary purposes is not to over-cook it (because the slimy texture is not appetizing), but this is exactly the right stuff for our thick, hair-softening Okra conditioner. We make our own infusion by adding boiling water to fresh okra; this is strained and cooled, ready for use in our fresh, handmade cosmetics.