Okra is a hearty vegetable that pairs deliciously in many southern dishes, like gumbo. If you have leftover okra you want to preserve, freezing is easy because okra is a high-water vegetable. Freeze okra, and you retain most of its nutritional value while reducing the prep time to cook with it later. Whether in stews, as a side dish, or fried up, frozen okra adds flavor while keeping meals healthy!
Luckily, okra is one of the easiest vegetables to freeze. Start by washing fresh okra, then cut them into discs or sticks. Next, blanch the okra pieces for 4 minutes. Finally, flash-freeze them for 3-4 hours before moving them into freezer-safe containers for long-term storage.
Okra tastes best when it is in season, so you should find fresh okra between May to September to freeze for the rest of the year. You can also follow these quick tips to pick out the freshest okra:
Tip #1: Look for bright green, smooth, blemish-free pods.
Tip #2: Avoid pods with brown spots or dry ends.
Tip #3: Gently press the pods between your fingers – the okra should feel tender and soft. It should also be firm but not hard. If it is hard, it will be tough to cook.
You can freeze as much or as little okra as you need. In this recipe, we will freeze about 2 pounds of okra. Whichever amount you choose, it is essential to use fresh, in-season produce for the best results.
Ensure that the containers you use are freezer safe and can withstand cold temperatures. You can use freezer jars or freezer-safe bags to store your frozen okra. Freezer-safe zip lock bags also work well because you can stack them efficiently, and they use less space than freezer jars.
Before freezing, you must clean the okra of any pesticide and fertilizer residue. To wash okra, follow these simple steps:
You can cut okra any way you want, depending on how you use them in dishes. To cut okra, follow these easy steps:
Blanching is an essential step you do not want to skip when freezing okra. It will help preserve the okra’s color, texture, and flavor for a longer time. To blanch okra, follow these simple steps:
Flash freezing is when you expose your okra to extremely-low temperatures so that they freeze fast. This also freezes okra without forming large ice crystals, which gives you a higher-quality end product. To flash freeze okra, follow these easy steps:
If you plan to use the frozen okra for frying, you can coat the okra pieces with corn flour before moving to the next step.
When the okra has frozen solid, you need to transfer it to freezer-safe containers for long-term storage. To store okra properly, follow these simple steps:
Remember that you do not always need to thaw them when using your frozen okra. If you are using the okra in soups and stews, you can use the frozen okra directly.
However, if you are frying the okra, you need to thaw and drain the frozen okra completely. To thaw frozen okra, use the defrost setting on your microwave and periodically stir the okra. Do not thaw the okra for too long because they may end up slimy.
If you want to incorporate okra into your diet, follow this delicious easy-baked okra recipe that makes an excellent side dish!
You can technically freeze okra without blanching, but you will end up with a lower-quality product that does not last long. Blanching stops the enzymatic decay process, which preserves the okra for longer. If you freeze okra without blanching, these enzymes may survive in the freezer and shorten the okra’s shelf life.
You can freeze okra whole, especially if you want to fry it. You may have to flash freeze whole okra for longer than you would when freezing okra slices. Only when the okra has frozen completely can you transfer it to freezer bags and eventually the freezer.
Whole frozen okra works well for roasting and frying, but it is best to use okra slices for soups or stews.
Properly frozen and stored okra will maintain its quality for 9-12 months in the freezer, and will be safe to eat for even longer. However, you should always check the quality of the okra before you use it. If the okra looks moldy or slimy, it is best to discard it.
You can coat the okra in corn flour before freezing it. This might come in handy, especially if you plan to use the okra for frying. The cornflour provides an extra coating and prevents the okra from sticking to one another. You can also use a half-half combination of cornmeal and flour to coat the okra. There is no exact measurement for how much breading you need for coating, so use as much as you need until the okra surface is thoroughly coated.
Freezing is a simple way to preserve your okra haul and enjoy it throughout the year. Whether you use it in soups or stews, frozen okra will come in handy for years to come!
If you enjoyed this freezing guide, you could learn how to freeze zucchini – an equally hearty substitute to okra.
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