Tips on Freezing Okra
Okra is a delicious vegetable that is a warm season crop; therefore, it is beneficial to learn tips on freezing okra so that it can be enjoyed all year long.
Typically when people think of okra, they think of the south where the vegetable is a relished member of the many meals. It may surprise people to learn that okra is actually a member of the floral family that includes such garden favorites as hibiscus, Rose of Sharon and hollyhock plants. The vegetable is an annual growing plant that can reach over 3 feet in height; providing not only delicious harvest but also ornamental value in the garden through the flowering and fruiting stages. When harvesting the okra pods, it is strongly advisable to wear gloves and protective clothing as the plant is covered with tiny hair like protrusions that prove to be an irritant to many people with contact. Okra pods that measure between two and three inches long are the most tender and delectable, and the vegetable must be harvested often to get the best yield. Often, okra planted from seed will provide more than enough plants for one family’s food needs; four to five plants alone will supply adequate amounts of fresh okra. The remainder can be offered to friends and families or, for the wise gardener who knows the process of freezing okra, can be enjoyed by the family throughout the winter season as well.
The first step will be to prepare the vegetable harvest. Freshly picked okra no longer than four inches and free of any blemishes will be the best choice for freezing. Wash and drain thoroughly. Remove the stem ends with a sharp knife, cutting a minimal amount of the pod to avoid exposing the seed cells within. The okra is generally left whole for freezing; however, some people will cut the vegetable in proportionate pieces when they plan to bread it before freezing in order enjoy fried okra later on.
There are a couple of different methods for preparing okra to freeze. Knowing which method to use will depend on personal preference as well as what the vegetable will eventually be used for. Two of the methods begin with blanching; a process in which the vegetable is submerged in boiling water for about 3 minutes, removed and then plunged into ice water to immediately stop the cooking process.
- To enjoy fried okra later in the season, the vegetable can be cut after blanching, coated with flour, dipped in milk, breaded with equal portions of dry pancake mix and cornmeal and then placed on a flat cookie sheet to freeze before placing frozen pieces in a freezer container. When ready to use, do not thaw okra; place the frozen pieces in hot oil and fry until golden.
- After blanching, drain the whole pods well before placing them into a freezer bag or container and sealing completely. Freeze. When ready to use, simply proceed as with recipes as you would when using fresh okra.
- For a short term freezing process, simply wash the vegetable and pat dry. Remove the stem ends, ensuring that the seed cells are not exposed. Place the cleaned and dried pods on a flat cookie sheet and place in the freezer. When the pods are completely frozen, place them in a freezer bag or container until ready to use.
Each of these methods can be successful when the procedure is followed. Remember that by not blanching the vegetable, it will have a limited freezer life and should be used within a few months. After blanching, the freezer life of the vegetable will be extended to almost a year.
Freezing okra is a great way to enjoy this delicious and versatile vegetable all year long.