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Few things are more quintessentially southern than okra; specifically fried okra; even more specifically home grown fried okra. So, when it comes time to plant your garden, it's hard to fight the urge to grow more okra than you can eat before it goes bad. But, there must be a way to keep it from going bad. Right? Can you freeze okra?
Now, let's keep scrolling and find out how to freeze okra so you never run out!
Can You Freeze Okra?
Yes, you can freeze okra whole, sliced, and even dry battered. To freeze okra you just need cut off the tops and then either keep them whole or cut in slices. Whichever you do, flash freeze them, place them in a labeled freezer bag, and store until it's time to use them.
Not only can you freeze okra, but it is really easy to freeze. Best of all you can freeze it with flour and cornmeal so you don't even have to thaw them out before you throw them in the pan to fry.
They will stay fresh in the freezer for up to a year (4 times as long as the 3 month max in the fridge). You can go straight to cooking them so no need to thaw but they can be defrosted in the fridge overnight if you need to.
The techniques we use to freeze okra are very similar to those used to freeze other foods like: asparagus, beets, yellow squash, zucchini, and carrots.
Can you freeze okra without blanching?
You can freeze okra without blanching first. However, that doesn't mean you should just run off and throw a bag of okra in the freezer and be done with it. That's a sure fire way to end up with a spoiled, albeit very cold, bag of okra.
Okra, like other vegetables such as brussel sprouts, rhubarb and peas, contain an enzyme that keeps the food aging even after freezing unless the enzyme is killed via heating.
So, you can freeze okra without blanching but you do need to heat it up in some way to destroy the enzyme that causes veggies to continue aging even when frozen.
We prefer blanching because it is a bit quicker but you can also bake your okra and get the same effect. Pre-heat your oven to 300°F. While it is heating, is layer your okra on a cookie sheet just like if you were going to flash freeze them. When the oven is ready, pop your okra into the oven for the same amount of time you would blanch it, about 3 to 4 minutes depending on their size.
One nice thing about baking is that you don't have to dry them off like you do with blanching. However, you want to get them bagged and in the freezer as quickly as you can to stop the cooking process once they are finished.
Need to get all your food preserved easily? Check out the Ultimate Guide To Freezing Food so that you can fill your freezer without in minimal time.
|Blanch/Bake||Small: 3 minutes per 1 lb|
Large: 4 minutes per 1 lb
|Time To Freeze||2 to 4 hours (flash freeze)|
12 to 24 (deep freeze)
|Time to Thaw||a few hours in the fridge|
can cook in oven or microwave without thawing
throw straight into a recipe or pan fry
|Freezer Life||up to 12 months|
Frozen Vs Non-frozen
|Freezer Life||Fridge Life|
|up to 1 year||1 to 3 months|
You are going to need the following supplies:
- cookie sheet (for flash freezing)
- Freezer bags
- Sharpie or marker
- knife and cutting board
- colander (for washing)
- large stock pot (steamed or boiled)
How To Freeze Okra
You can freeze okra as whole pieces or as slices. Both freeze quickly and easily so it's really a matter of preference. We will use the flash freezing method in either scenario to keep them from clumping together in the freezer.
How To Flash Freeze
Flash freezing is basically a shorter freeze before the long term deep freeze. It causes the moisture on and just below the surface of the okra to freeze and harden. Since the outside is frozen, there is nothing to cause the veggies to stick to each other in the freezer. If you are unsure how to flash freeze, you just:
- cover a cookie sheet in parchment paper or aluminum foil
- make a single layer of okra being careful not to have them overlap
- place the cookie sheet on a shelf in the freezer and set a timer for between 2 and 4 hours depending on the size and amount of okra you are freezing
- check to make sure they are starting to freeze when your timer goes off, and if so, move to the next step
How to Blanch
Blanching, like the baking tips above, is a way to slightly cook your food long enough to destroy any enzymes that can keep your okra from being preserved.
The way you blanch is easy. You will need a colander, along with a large stock pot and large mixing bowl both big enough for the colander to easily fit in them.
- Boil a large pot of water
- While you wait for it to boil, fill a large mixing bowl with ice water
- Dump your cut okra into the colander and, when the water is boiling, lower the colander into the pot
- Set a timer for 3 to 4 minutes depending on how big your okra is. It's best to do around a pound at time.
- When the timer goes off, immediately move the colander of okra from the boiling water to the ice bath and set the timer again for the same amount of time you just did for blanching.
- When that timer alerts you, remove the okra from the ice bath and set it to the side so it can dry. You may want to put them in a second, dry colander so air can circulate around them. You can also use a paper towel to pat them dry.
- use a colander to hold your okra in the sink while you wash them under running water
- use a knife or mandolin slicer to cut the top, or cap, of the okra off. You can then continue to cut it into slices or keep them whole
- Blanch the okra using the instructions above (you can also use the baking method here, if you prefer)
- Once blanched (or baked), cool, and dry, flash freeze everything
- After the flash freezing timer goes off, pull the cookie sheet from the freeze and start bagging your okra into freezer bags labeled with the contents, freeze date, and use by date.
- If you like, you can coat the okra in a dry cornmeal batter before freezing them
- Put the freezer bags in a freezer where they can stay at a stable temperature for 24 hours
How do you defrost it?
The best methods you can use to defrost or thaw your frozen okra is to not thaw it at all. Throw it straight into a pan to fry or sauté. You can also add them right into your favorite soup, stew, or with a roast. If you do need to defrost them, you can leave them in the fridge overnight or run them under cool water for a little bit.
How can I use frozen okra?
Like we said above, frozen okra is great to pan fry or sauté. It's also delicious in various soups and stews.
If you need more help getting your foods frozen, check out the Ultimate Freezing Food Guide for a complete quick start reference so that you can have a well-stocked freezer.