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How To Freeze Okra: A Complete Guide

Okra is a signature Southern ingredient.

It’s also known as ladies’ fingers because of its slender, tube-like shape.

Even though okra is a summertime treat, if you love its taste, you can always choose to freeze some fresh pods to satisfy your okra cravings later in the year.

Whether you want to simply fry them or add them to your soups and casseroles, you can get ready for winter with your handy frozen okra.

You can also saute okra first, freeze, and then later make a delicious side dish.

This step-by-step guide explains how to freeze okra.

How to Freeze Okra

To get started, all you need are some fresh okra pods and a few simple tools that you probably already have around in your kitchen.

Here’s a list of the things you need.

  • Fresh okra
  • A large colander
  • A large cooking pot
  • A large pot with ice and water
  • White vinegar 
  • A sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Reusable freezer bags (or zipper bags)
  • Baking sheet pan or tray

Step 1: Get Fresh Okra

Pick the freshest okra if you want the best results.

Choose smooth, unblemished pods that are brightly colored and don’t appear mushy.

Step 2: Wash the Okra

Transfer the okra into a colander and wash it under running water.

Rinse gently but thoroughly and make sure to remove all traces of dirt and debris.

(Be gentle though, as okra pods are quite fragile and can bruise easily if mishandled.)

Then combine a mixture of white vinegar and water in equal parts, just enough to cover the amount of okra you’re working with.

Soak the okra in the mixture for about 2 minutes, turning the okra occasionally.

The acid in the vinegar helps to dissolve wax or pesticide residues and kills any bacteria or bugs as well.

After you’re done soaking the okra, rinse thoroughly with plain water.

Pat dry gently with a clean kitchen towel.

Step 3: Remove the Stems

Now take your cutting board and sharp knife and start cutting off the stems or caps of the okra.

Be careful not to cut into the seed cells.

Exposing the seed cells will cause the okra to break down in the step discussed next.

If you can see the tiny white seeds, you’re cutting too much of the stem.

You just have to trim off the “woody” stem that looks like a spout on the end.

Step 4: Blanch the Okra and Plunge Them into an Ice Bath

Separate the larger okra pods (3 to 4 inches long) from the smaller ones (5 to 7 inches long).

Fill a cooking pot with water and put it on high heat to bring it to boil.

At the same time, keep another pot or large bowl ready with ice water.

When the water starts to boil, add the larger okra pods into it and boil them uncovered for  4 minutes.

After that, take them out with a slotted spoon and put them in the ice water.

This will help prevent the okra from overcooking and preserve their fresh, green color.

Now, blanch the smaller pods of okra in boiling water uncovered for 3 minutes.

Transfer them into the ice water bath in the same way.

Blanching larger and smaller pods separately will help in retaining the texture of each.

After allowing the okra to cool off for a few minutes in ice water, transfer them into a colander and drain off excess water.

Now, lay the okra on a cookie sheet to let them dry completely.

Q. Why Do You Have to Blanch Okra Before Freezing?
A. Blanching is helpful to stop enzymatic activity inside the okra, which can cause it to decay.
These enzymes are able to survive in freezing temperatures and continue the decaying process even when the okra is frozen.
Therefore, it’s important to stop enzymatic action by putting the okra in boiling water.
Otherwise, you will end up getting mushy, discolored, and flavorless okra when you thaw them later.
  • Underblanching stimulates the activity of enzymes and is worse than no blanching.
  • Overblanching causes loss of flavor, color, vitamins and minerals. (University of Minnesota Extension)

The next steps involved in freezing fresh okra depend on how you plan to use the frozen okra later.

Freezing Okra for Casseroles and Stews

  1. Once the okra is fully dried, chop them horizontally to create small chunks of okra. If you like them served in strips, you can cut them vertically, instead. Keep the seeds intact, no matter which cut you prefer.
  2. Place the okra pieces on a tray covered with a baking sheet, creating a single layer of okra over the sheet. Keep a little distance in between each piece.
  3. Now flash freeze the okra by putting the tray in the freezer for about an hour. The pieces should become firm and slightly icy but not frozen solid.
  4. Take out the tray after an hour and transfer the frozen okra into reusable freezer bags. Make sure you squeeze out all the air and seal the bags properly.
  5. Put the bags in the freezer. You can also label them with the date.

Freezing Okra for Frying

  1. Since fried okra is typically breaded using cornmeal or a mixture of flour and cornmeal, you can do it before freezing it.
    • Use plain cornmeal or equal parts of cornmeal and flour to prepare the mixture. You may add a pinch of salt and pepper to the mix.
  2. Cut the okra into small pieces and coat them with a dry batter.
  3. Arrange individual pieces on a tray covered with a baking sheet.
    • Repeat the same process of flash freezing as discussed above.
  4. After an hour, transfer the pieces into reusable freezer bags, vacuum sealing or pressing out the air from the bags.
  5. Put the bag in the freezer. You can also label them with the date.

How to Use Frozen Okra

You can add frozen okra directly to soups, stews, and casseroles without thawing first. Your okra will cook with the heat of your dish.

If using frozen breaded okra, take directly from the freezer and air fry or bake in a conventional oven. 

If you want to bread the okra after its been frozen, let thaw, pat dry, batter or coat in a dry mix, then fry in hot oil.

 

Tips and Tricks

  • You must ensure that the okra you’re using is fresh.
    • To check the freshness, bend the tip of okra gently.
      • If the tip breaks off with a snap, it’s fresh.
      •  Stale or under-ripe okra will tear and bend.
      • Avoid choosing okra with spots, pits, bruises, or other signs of decay.
  • If you get fresh okra from your local vegetable store, your best chances of finding fresh okra are from May through September in the U.S. growing season.
  • Follow your recipe for how best to use your frozen okra.
  • Use frozen okra within a year to maintain quality and taste.

The bottom line

Freezing okra is a quick and easy way to keep this delicious vegetable on hand in the kitchen well past the summer season.

Freeze some while it’s in season, so you can enjoy it whenever you like.

A Complete Guide On How To Freeze Okra

A Complete Guide On How To Freeze Okra

This is how to freeze fresh okra so you can enjoy adding it to your casseroles and stews all year round.

Ingredients

  • Fresh okra
  • Large colander
  • Large cooking pot
  • Large pot with ice and water
  • White vinegar
  • Kitchen towel
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Reusable freezer bags (or zipper bags)
  • Cookie sheet

Instructions

  1. After you blanched the okra, take a knife and chop them horizontally to create small chunks of okra. If you like them served in strips, you can cut them vertically, instead. Keep the seeds intact, no matter which cut you prefer.
  2. Place the okra pieces on a tray covered with a baking sheet, creating a single layer of okra over the sheet. Keep a little distance in between each piece.
  3. Now flash freeze the okra by putting the tray in the freezer for about an hour. The pieces should become firm and slightly icy but not completely covered with frost.
  4. Take out the tray after an hour and transfer the frozen okra into reusable freezer bags. Make sure you squeeze out all the air and seal the bags properly.
  5. Put the bags in the freezer. You can also label them with the date.

Notes

  1. Ensure that the okra you’re using is fresh. To check the freshness, bend the tip of okra gently. If the tip breaks off with a snap, it’s fresh. Stale or under-ripe okra will tear and bend. Avoid choosing okra with spots, pits, bruises, or other signs of decay.
  2. If you have to get fresh okra from your local vegetable store, your best chances of finding fresh okra are from May through September.
  3. Never use a wet batter to coat okra that is meant to be frozen.
  4. Use frozen okra within a year to maintain quality and taste.
Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

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Tammy Catterton

Sunday 26th of September 2021

wow thanks for tips on Okra so informative to know

Susan Werth

Friday 27th of August 2021

I don't make it, as i don't like it

Andi Reis

Saturday 28th of August 2021

Same. I've never been a fan. Thanks for stopping by, Susan. - Andi

Melinda Gaines

Friday 27th of August 2021

Good tips on freezing okra.

Melinda Gaines

Thursday 26th of August 2021

Okra is so good for you

Melinda Gaines

Tuesday 24th of August 2021

I love okra!

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