Okra must be blanched before freezing to preserve its freshness and nutrition. Here’s why blanching is important and how to do it to freeze okra.
Okra is kind of a mysterious vegetable. People see it and wonder what it is. Some, especially outside the southern states, have never even heard of it.
It’s a key ingredient in gumbo and is absolutely delicious when sliced into nuggets, breaded in cornmeal, and fried. It’s like a veggie popcorn. I like fried okra dipped in Comeback Sauce.
Okra plants are prolific. The pods mature quickly and must be picked at least every other day. The best pods are about the length of your middle finger. At this size, they’re tender and flavorful. When okra pods get bigger than this, they get tough and fibrous. The pods that get too big I just let go to seed for planting next year.
Canning okra is also possible. It must be pressure canned because it’s a low-acid vegetable. I’ve canned okra before with good results and used it in soups. But I prefer okra frozen.
How to Freeze Okra
- Wash and remove the stems from the okra pods. Leave the pods whole.
- Place them into a cooking pot that has enough room for the pods to be covered in water when pushed down. The pods will float.
- Turn the burner on to medium-high.
- Stir the pods in the hot water for about 2-3 minutes until they’re all bright green.
- Remove the pods from the hot water and rinse them in cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Allow the cooled pods to drain on a paper towel.
- Place a plastic freezer storage bag in a mixing bowl. Fold down the top edges to help it stand up.
- Slice the okra pods into 1/2 inch nuggets into the freezer bag.
- Close the bag, label it if you like, and place it in the freezer.
Why Blanching Okra Before Freezing is Important
Enzymes in okra and some other vegetables are what cause them to go bad. Blanching kills these enzymes. The reason you want to kill the enzymes is that they can survive the freezing process. So when you go to the freezer a few months later to get unblanched okra, it would very well be no good anymore and need to be composted or tossed.
Here is a good, quick resource for which vegetables need to be blanched before freezing and which do not.
Okra is easy to grow and easy to prepare and enjoy. Give it a try!