How To Freeze Okra
Learn Tips On How To Freeze Okra
If you learn how to freeze okra properly, it is possible to extend its shelf life considerably and enjoy it even out of season. Okra is a key component of signature dishes in the southern United States, Africa, Brazil, and the Caribbean. While simply tossing the okra into a freezer bag and placing it in the freezer will work for a short time, if you blanch the okra pods first you can extend its life in the freezer for up to fourteen months. The process of blanching vegetables destroys the enzymes that break down the plant's nutrients and change the color, flavor, and texture of food over time. It is a simple process that anyone can follow.
When freezing okra, it is important to start with the freshest okra you can get. You will want to use young and tender okra pods for freezing. If you grow your own, take it directly from the garden and begin the freezing process. If you have to wait between picking the okra and freezing it, be sure to keep it refrigerated or on ice.
Rinse the okra pods with cold or lukewarm water, and separate them by size. You are going to blanch the pods, or boil them for a short amount of time, and the pods that are smaller than 4 inches will need to be blanched in a different batch than those longer than 4 inches.
To prepare the okra for blanching, cut the stems off the end of the okra pods. You will want to use a sharp knife, and be careful not to cut into the pod's seed cell. Because letting a cut okra pod sit for more than half an hour will cause discoloring, prepare only the small pods first. If you will be freezing a lot of okra, prepare only enough small pods for one blanching. You can prepare the rest of the pods while the first batch is boiling.
Fill a pot about 2/3 full of water and bring the water to a boil. Also prepare a large bowl of ice and cold water so it is ready for the okra pods after they have been blanched. To blanch the okra pods, place them in the boiling water and cover the pot. The small pods should be boiled for three minutes, and the larger pods for four minutes. This is the key step in learning how to freeze okra.
Once the pods have been blanched for the appropriate amount of time, place them in the bowl of ice water. They will need to cool for five to seven minutes. If the water becomes warm, add more ice.
After the pods have cooled, place them in a colander and allow the excess water to drain for two or three minutes. Once the okra pods are fully drained, they are ready to freeze. You can slice the pods or leave them whole, depending on how you plan to cook them later. If you intend to fry them, you can cover them in corn meal or flour at this point, before freezing. Otherwise you can leave them whole and plain. Place them in a zippered freezer bag and remove as much air from the bag as possible before tightly sealing and freezing. Be sure to label the bags with the contents and date, so you will know when the okra must be used by. Blanched okra will last up to nine months in a regular freezer, and up to fourteen months in a deep freeze. If you learn how to freeze okra using this process, you should have excellent results.