How to Freeze Okra

By Charlotte King

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 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!
cut pieces of okra

Preparing to Freeze Okra

How to Pick Fresh Okra

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.

Supplies You Need

Okra

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.

Freezer Containers

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.

How to Freeze Okra

frozen okra pieces

1. Wash the Okra

Before freezing, you must clean the okra of any pesticide and fertilizer residue. To wash okra, follow these simple steps:

  1. Mix one part vinegar with three parts water. Allow the okra to soak in this solution for a few minutes while agitating the solution intermittently. The vinegar will help eliminate any insecticides, wax, and small critters.
  2. After 2-3 minutes, rinse the okra with clean water before draining them in a colander.

2. Cut the Okra

You can cut okra any way you want, depending on how you use them in dishes. To cut okra, follow these easy steps:

  1. Start by chopping the okra stems.
  2. Cut the okra into discs, sticks, or leave them whole. Whichever way you cut, the okra pieces should be a similar size so that the cooking time can be the same.

3. Blanch the Okra

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:

  1. Place a pot of water on the stove and let it come to a boil.
  2. When the water is boiling, drop the okra in and blanch them for about 4 minutes.
  3. After 4 minutes, transfer the okra to a bowl of ice-cold water to stop them from cooking.
  4. Let the okra cool down and then drain them with a colander.

4. Flash Freeze the Okra

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:

  1. Place the okra pieces in a single layer on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  2. Load the baking tray into the freezer for 3-4 hours or until frozen solid.

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.

5. Store the Okra

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:

  1. Move the okra into freezer-safe zip lock bags.
  2. Squeeze out all air before sealing the zip-lock bags. You can also create a vacuum seal with a straw. Leave enough space for a straw to pass through and suck out all air from the bag before completely sealing the bag.
  3. Label and date each bag before loading it into your freezer for long-term storage.

How to Use Frozen Okra

okra african stew

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!

Easy Baked Okra Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 bags of frozen okra
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne powder
  • ⅛ tsp crushed black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Add the oil, spices, and seasoning to a bowl and mix them.
  3. Add your frozen okra to the bowl of spices and give them a good toss so that they are well coated.
  4. On a baking tray lined with parchment paper, spread out the okra and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. After 15 minutes, use a spatula and flip the okra slices and bake for another 15 minutes or until they reach your preferred level of crunchiness.

Frequently Asked Questions

closeup of cut pieces of okra

Can You Freeze Okra Without Blanching?

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.

Can You Freeze Okra Whole?

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.

How Long Does Okra Last in the Freezer?

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.

Do You Bread Okra Before Freezing?

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.

Conclusion

closeup of okra

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.

cut pieces of okra

Frozen Okra

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!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 mins
Total Time 4 hrs
Course Preparation
Calories 299 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs okra

Instructions
 

  • Start by washing your okra in a 3:1 water and vinegar solution. Drain the water and give the okra another rinse in freshwater.
  • Chop off the okra stems and cut the okra into discs, sticks, or leave them whole. All pieces should be cut in a similar size.
  • Blanch the okra in boiling water for about 4 minutes. Transfer them to ice-cold water to stop the cooking process.
  • Load the okra on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and leave it in the freezer for 3-4 hours.
  • When the okra has frozen solid, transfer them to freezer-safe bags. Remove as much air as possible before sealing them shut.
  • Label and date each bag before loading it into the freezer for long-term storage.

Nutrition

Sodium: 64mgCalcium: 744mgVitamin C: 209mgVitamin A: 6495IUSugar: 13gFiber: 29gPotassium: 2712mgCalories: 299kcalMonounsaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gFat: 2gProtein: 18gCarbohydrates: 68gIron: 6mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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