If you like the taste of okra, wait until it's season and save some to freeze. When you're in the mood for an okra during the cold winter months, you'll be glad you thought ahead. Just be sure to freeze using the proper technique: blanch first, cut into pieces and freeze before storing. Otherwise, you might have softened okra when it's time to thaw. See these steps to learn the proper technique for freezing okra.
Method 1 of 3: Preparing and scalding the okra
Step 1. Start with fresh okra
Do not try to freeze unripe or overdone okra, or the taste and texture when thawing will not be pleasant. Choose brightly colored, well-formed okra with no soft or damaged parts.
- If possible, choose fresh okra. This allows you to freeze the okra before it starts to pass, preserving its flavor.
- If you don't grow your own okra or can't get it on a farm, try buying it at the fair or a market that stocks up regularly. You don't want an okra that's been sitting on the shelf for days.
Step 2. Wash the okra
Remove dirt and dirt using a stream of cold water. Stir lightly with the okra, removing the soil instead of rubbing. Okra is a very fragile vegetable and will be damaged if handled with force.
Step 3. Cut the stalks
Use a sharp knife to remove the okra stalks. Don't take out the entire part that covers the pod; Just take some off the edges. Opening the pod will make the okra break easily when scalding.
Step 4. Prepare a pot of boiling water
Put water in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. This will be used to scald the okra.
Step 5. Prepare an ice bath
Fill a bowl with ice and water. The okra will be dipped in water immediately after scalding to prevent overcooking.
Step 6. Blanch the okra for 3-4 minutes
Place the okra in boiling water. If the pieces of okra are large, they should be boiled for 4 minutes. Blanch for 3 minutes if they are smaller. After that time, remove the okra from the pan with a slotted spoon.
- If you have a mixture of large and smaller pieces of okra, separate before scalding. Boil the small pieces for 3 minutes and the larger pieces for 4. Doing this separately will preserve the texture of each piece.
- Blanching vegetables kills the enzymes that cause the okra to continue to ripen and eventually rot, and this helps preserve color, flavor and texture. If you don't scald before freezing, you'll end up with soft, tasteless okra when you thaw.
Step 7. Soak the okra in the ice bath for 3-4 minutes
As a general rule, you should cool the boiled vegetables at the same time as scalding. If you scalded the small pieces of okra for 3 minutes, chill them for 3. If you scalded the large pieces for 4 minutes, chill them for 4.
Step 8. Drain and dry the okra
Place the okras on a chopping board or platter and allow them to dry before continuing.
Method 2 of 3: Freezing for stews and casseroles
Step 1. Chop the okra
Plan ahead what you plan on using the okra. If using it in a stew, cut horizontally to make chunks. If you plan to serve as an accompaniment or stuffing, cut it lengthwise to make strips. Leave the seeds intact.
If you're going to make fried okra, it's best to bread before freezing. Follow the steps in the next part
Step 2. Place the okra on a platter
Put the pieces in a single layer and make sure none of them are touching.
Step 3. Quickly freeze the okra
Place the platter in the freezer and freeze the okra for 1 hour, or until the pieces are firm and slightly hard. Do not leave the okra in the freezer uncovered any longer than this, or the cold will affect the texture.
Step 4. Place the okra in freezer bags
Fill each bag up to the mouth with the frozen okra pieces. Close the mouth of the bag, leaving enough space to insert a straw into it. Suck the air out of the bag so that it closes tightly around the okra. Remove the straw and close the bag once and for all.
- Removing the air prevents the okra from spoiling quickly.
- If you have a vacuum closure, even better.
- Consider tagging the bags with the date they were packaged.
Step 5. Use the frozen okra
Frozen okra can be used in stews, soups and casseroles without having to be thawed. In fact, it's better to cook the okra right away rather than defrost it first. The more the okra is stirred, the more likely it is to soften.
Method 3 of 3: Freezing to Fry
Step 1. Chop the okra into pieces
Use a sharp knife to cut the okra into smaller pieces to fry evenly.
Step 2. Bread the okras
Fried okra is usually breaded with cornmeal, or a mixture of cornmeal and flour. You can pass it on plain cornmeal, or cornmeal with a dash of salt and pepper. Whichever mixture you choose, pass each piece of okra in a thin layer and remove excess.
Do not use a wet mixture to bread the okra before freezing, as this will not last well in the freezer over time
Step 3. Quickly freeze the okra
Place the pieces on a platter in a single layer. Place the dish in the freezer for an hour. Remove from freezer when okra pieces are firm enough.
Step 4. Separate the okra pieces into freezer bags
Fill each bag up to a few inches from the mouth with the frozen okra pieces. Close the mouth of the bag, leaving enough space to insert a straw into the empty space. Suck air through the straw so that the bag closes tightly around the okra. Remove the straw and close the bag.
Step 5. Fry the okra
When it's time to use the okra, heat vegetable or peanut oil in a large skillet. Let the oil get hot enough to bubble when you put a piece of cornmeal in the pan. Place the frozen okras directly in the hot oil and fry until golden and crispy. Season with salt and pepper to serve.
- Okra can be frozen for up to a year.
- You can also try frying the okra instead of scalding it. To do this, add 2 tablespoons of oil for every 500 g of okra in a deep pot. Fry the okra for 5 minutes, stirring lightly with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and let cool. Then place in freezer bags, remove air, close and freeze.
- Only fresh, soft okra should be frozen; Older okra may not taste as good once frozen!
- Don't forget to date the frozen okra bags.