Okra is a powerhouse vegetable rich in fiber and antioxidants, so no wonder many find themselves drawn to this nutritious veg. But what if you have more okra than you can use—can you store it for longer by freezing it?
You can freeze okra easily if you blanch it first. Many restaurants typically freeze okra pods to ensure they stay fresh and delicious before serving the vegetables to their customers. While you can keep okra in the freezer for up to a year, consuming it within 6 months of freezing is best.
In this article, I will cover important okra-related topics, such as how long you can keep okra in the freezer, how to freeze and thaw okra, and whether or not it’s a good idea to freeze okra without cooking or blanching it first. Keep reading.
How To Freeze Okra Whole (Step-by-Step)
Okra is a versatile vegetable found in various recipes, especially in the south, making it a staple in many delicious dishes such as gumbo. So let’s dive in and learn how you can freeze your whole Okra for later use.
You’ll need the following items:
- Ziplock bag or airtight container
- Parchment paper. If you don’t already own some, I recommend using Hiware Non-Stick Unbleached Parchment Paper (available on Amazon). This fantastic product comes in a giant roll so that you’ll have plenty for months to come. It’s excellent for cooking, baking, and grilling!
- Baking sheet
Follow the steps below to freeze your okra:
- Wash the whole okra pods thoroughly. Doing this ensures the removal of any pesticides, bugs, or dirt.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Allow the water to reach a rolling boil before adding your vegetables. You can also add a little salt to help your water boil hotter.
- Blanch your okra pods in hot water. The blanching process should take about 3 to 5 minutes. It’s not intended to fully cook the okra, just the outside layer.
- Remove your vegetables from the pot and immediately put them in cold water. Putting the okra in cold water quickly stops the cooking process. If you allow the hot okra to cool on a plate instead, it will continue to cook for a while which is something you don’t want.
- Place the pods on a parchment-lined baking sheet without touching each other. Do this once the pods are cool. Then, place the sheet in the freezer. Flash freezing these veggies will help maintain their flavor and prevent them from becoming too soggy during the freezing process.
- Place the okra pods into an airtight container once they’re frozen. Be sure to seal the container well, or you’ll risk your pods becoming freezer burnt. If you use a plastic freezer bag make sure to push out as much of the air as possible.
- Label and date the okra container. This way, you will always know how much time you have until your veggies need to be used up.
- Place your veggies in the freezer. Simply pop your okra in the freezer and enjoy it for months.
The overall freezing process for okra is relatively simple and is a great way to take advantage of the lower price of okra when it’s in season and prevent food waste.
How Long Is Frozen Okra Good For?
You can freeze any extra okra you might have in the kitchen, but the real question is, how long can you keep okra in the freezer?
Frozen okra is good for 10 to 12 months in the freezer as long as it’s properly stored in an airtight container. Though, consuming the frozen okra within 6 months is recommended to ensure you enjoy its best taste.
Just like any food you freeze for later, it’s best that you consume your okra within one year.
How To Thaw Frozen Okra Properly
Now that you know how to freeze your okra correctly, it’s time to learn the best process for thawing it. You can use a few different methods when thawing your okra pods, and some methods yield better results than others.
Thaw the Okra in a Microwave
The first method I would like to talk about is using the microwave. Most households have a microwave, and using yours to thaw your okra is probably the quickest way to get your pods ready to use.
To thaw frozen okra in a microwave, you need to do the following:
- Place your okra in a microwave-safe bowl.
- Microwave your okra 1 minute at a time.
- Stir the okra in between microwaving time.
- Remove the okra from the microwave and enjoy it once it’s thawed.
Be careful not to overcook your okra when thawing it in the microwave. You should never add too much time to your microwave. Instead, add small increments of time to ensure your okra maintains the best quality.
Use Lukewarm Water To Thaw the Okra
Using lukewarm water is another quick and easy way to thaw your frozen vegetables. This method is an excellent alternative to using the microwave if you’re concerned about overcooking your okra pods.
Here’s how to thaw frozen okra using water:
- Find a large bowl and transfer the okra into it.
- Run the okra under room temperature water allowing the bowl to fill up.
- Let the bowl of okra rest for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Drain the water and cook the okra immediately.
It’s essential to ensure that your water temperature isn’t too warm when thawing your okra this way. Too hot of water can begin to cook your okra, resulting in a more slimy, less appetizing texture.
Leave the Okra in the Refrigerator
The ideal way to thaw your frozen okra is to simply leave it in the refrigerator until it has fully thawed out.
Here’s a more detailed guide to thawing your okra in the refrigerator:
- Place your frozen okra in a covered bowl or leave it in the airtight container it was stored in.
- Leave the okra sitting in the refrigerator overnight or until you notice the pods have completely thawed.
- Remove the okra from the fridge and cook it immediately for the best taste.
Thawing your okra in the fridge is probably the easiest method so long as you remember to pull it out from the freezer the night before you need it.
Can You Freeze Okra Without Blanching?
The process of washing, blanching, flash freezing, and finally freezing your okra for later use can feel like a lot of steps, so you might find yourself wondering, can’t I just freeze my fresh okra as is?
You can freeze okra without blanching it. However, freezing your okra without blanching it first isn’t recommended. Cooking your okra before freezing the vegetable allows the vegetable enzymes to break down, better preserving the flavor once frozen.
Ultimately, you should consider blanching your okra pods first if you want the freshest results.
Can You Freeze Okra – Conclusion
So is it a good idea to freeze your leftover okra? The answer is yes! Freezing okra for later is a great way to preserve the nutrients in this incredible vegetable and leave you with plenty of veggies for months to come.
Remember, of course, fresh okra will always taste the best, but frozen pods will do just fine when cooked into a dish or fried.