Okra is a delicious summer crop that is a mainstay in many Southern families. To ensure you enjoy this delightful vegetable all year long, it’s a good idea to buy it in quantity during its season and freeze it. The months of May through September are the greatest for finding fresh okra. The thin, green, tube-like pod is filled with tiny white seeds. The vegetable has a unique texture that requires some attention, but the delicious flavor is well worth it. Okra becomes sticky when it cooks because of a gummy ingredient. However, a rapid sauté of the pods reduces the growth of the slimy substance. Okra has a lot of vitamins and minerals and is high in soluble fiber.
Okra can withstand the summer heat, which is one of the reasons it is a staple of Southern cuisine. The pods of okra begin to pile up quickly as it ripens. Okra can be frozen so that it can continue to appear at mealtimes throughout the winter. Without any effort, you may discover how to freeze okra using one of several simple techniques.
Okra Nutrition Facts
What is Okra?
These undeveloped seed pods of the okra plant, Abelmoschus esculentus, are what give these fuzzy green vegetables their color. Depending on where you live, they are also known as “gumbo” and “lady’s fingers.”
India is the world’s top producer of okra, and hot, humid regions are the greatest for growing it. Although we may think of this plant as a vegetable when preparing food, it is a fruit because it contains seeds.
Okra’s slimy texture can divide people.
Of course, it contains mucilage, a naturally occurring ingredient that thickens stews and gumbos. While some find this offensive, others think its distinctive texture makes it ideal for roasting or frying. Dry heat and quick roasting can reduce the sliminess. Additionally, it has a moderate, slightly grassy flavor and an outer fuzz that resembles a peach. Okra is frequently prepared by boiling, frying, roasting, canning, or boiling.
Okra has a distinctive flavor that is light and somewhat grassy. Even though its flavor is occasionally compared to green beans or eggplant, people tend to focus on its texture. When cooked rapidly, okra retains its crunch, but it practically melts in your mouth tenderness when simmered.
Tips for Growing Okra
Okra is simple to raise on your own. You will need a sizable garden, though; Okra plants have a maximum height of six feet. Here are some suggestions to make your okra plants in your garden thrive:
- Okra seeds don’t do well in cold soil, so be sure to plant them once your soil has warmed, around late spring.
- Space okra plants several feet apart have plenty of room to grow.
- When the seedlings reach about three inches high, thin the plants, so they are 12 to 18 inches apart.
- Okra is a warm-weather crop that grows best in full sun.
- About an inch of water per week is ideal for okra plants, and even more, may be needed if you live in an arid climate.
- After your first harvest, remove the leaves on the lower part of the plant to speed up production.
How to Freeze Okra to Fry?
The simplest way to preserve fresh okra for use throughout the year is to freeze it. You can fry these frozen okras if you follow these five simple methods, guaranteeing that your okra stays at its freshest throughout the year. How to do it is as follows:
Wash and Stem Okra
Begin with new okra. Okra that is young, flawless, and sensitive is always preferred. Put the whole okra pods in a bowl and add vinegar and water to taste. This will aid in dissolving leftover fertilizer and pesticide residue (and get rid of bugs… yikes). After a brief soaking in the solution, rinse the okra thoroughly. Cut the okra’s stalks off.
Blanch and Shock Okra
The next step is blanching, essential when freezing most veggies since it stops the enzyme activity, preserving the okra’s vibrant color and flavor. Put the okra in boiling water for up to four minutes to blanch it. After draining the okra, stop the cooking process immediately by plunging it into an ice bath or a sizable dish filled with ice and water. After a brief period of cooling, repeat the draining of the pods.
Chop Okra (or don’t)
You can now cut the okra into bite-sized pieces or leave the okra pods intact, depending on how you want to eat your okra. Before freezing, you can throw the okra in your cornmeal mixture if you intend to fry it.
Freeze Okra on a Baking Sheet
Give the pods of your okra a “flash freeze” to prevent them from freezing together into one large clump. Put the okra on top of a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake it that way. Ensure that none of them overlap. Place in freezer for four hours to overnight, or until totally solid.
Transfer Okra to Freezer Bag
Put the frozen okra in a freezer-safe bag after removing it from the baking sheet. Before sealing the bag, try to remove as much air as possible. Place the bag in the freezer for up to a year after marking it with the date. No freezing is necessary; cook the okra directly from the pack when ready to use it.
Thawing Frozen Okra
Okra is surprisingly easy to thaw. Take out the necessary quantity of frozen okra if you’re going to fried it. Please place it in a bowl, then fill the bowl with warm water. To defrost the pods, fill the basin numerous times; doing this doesn’t take long. If you know How To Freeze Fresh Okra, you can utilize frozen okra all year round. Additionally, it freezes in individual pieces, so you may only use what is required for the dish. In addition to reducing waste, this facilitates thawing.
Okra has many cultivars, including Clemson Spineless, Annie Oakley, Baby Bubba Hybrid, Cajun Delight, Louisiana Green Velvet, and others. The most prevalent kind of okra in the United States is green okra, which has plants that can reach heights of three to eight feet with pods that can be long or short, pointy or rounded. Purple okra is also possible; while choosing it at the market, it should appear just as fresh as the green kind.
How to Cook with Okra?
Most frequently, okra is used in stews and soups. It includes mucilage, which, when heated, serves as a natural thickener. While this helps dishes like gumbo, it produces the okra’s characteristic sliminess. Okra is often breaded and deep-fried in the Caribbean, but it is also pickled in other cultures, which helps to lessen how slimy it is.
Okra needs to be rinsed and dried well before being sliced or chopped. The scoring method varies from household to household and from one region of the world to another. Okra can be sliced lengthwise, cut diagonally, or into rounds. You can, of course, choose to leave it as is.
A few techniques have been effective at lowering the slime content of fried okra. Before cooking, some chefs advise soaking it in vinegar but make sure to dry it out entirely afterward. It can also be prepared at high heat by grilling or sautéing, and Okra can be precooked before being included in other dishes.
Frozen Okra Recipe
Here is the best-frozen okra recipe:
Here are the steps to make it:
- Combine the ingredients
- Bring a big pot of water to a boil.
- In a sizable basin, combine the okra with an equal mixture of white vinegar and water. Acetic acid, which is present in vinegar, dissolves wax, pesticide, and fertilizer residues while also killing microorganisms. Additionally, it gets any pests that could still be on freshly plucked okra. Rinse the okra thoroughly with lots of fresh, cool water after soaking it in the mixture for a few minutes.
- Keeping the seed cells in each pod, remove the stems. If seeds are visible, you are drawing too much.
- Place the okra pods in the boiling water with care. The enzymatic process is stopped by blanching, which keeps the okra’s fresh-picked color, flavor, and texture. These enzymes might survive in the freezer without being blanched and continue to decompose food. Give little okra pods 3 minutes and large okra pods 4 minutes in the boiling water.
- Transfer the cooked okra to an ice water bath once it has blanched (this helps set the green color). Place the pods in a colander to drain after allowing them to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Dry the okra with paper towels or a fresh dish towel once the pods are cold enough to handle. You can either leave the pods whole or cut them into manageable pieces.
- If you plan to fry your okra later, dredge the pieces in the optional corn flour.
- Flash-freeze the okra on a baking sheet in one even layer so that it freezes as separate pieces instead of clumps. The okra should be spread out and put in the freezer for 3 to 6 hours to freeze completely.
- Put the frozen okra in freezer bags and put the bags back in the freezer. For the most outstanding quality, utilize the okra within a year of harvesting and mark your bags with the processing date.
Where to Buy Okra?
Okra, that is still young, should feel solid but not hard. Look for pods that are brilliant green and have smooth skin. While a bit of browning on the stem shouldn’t be a problem, the fresher the okra is, the more green the branch should be. It’s not a very well-known fruit, and not all supermarkets carry it in a new form. May through September, when it is in season, offer the highest possibilities of locating it.
It is offered precut and frozen in 12- to 16-ounce bags at many supermarket stores. Okra is an annual that resists drought and does best in warm, muggy climates. After a gorgeous hibiscus-like bloom develops in shades of white, yellow, pink, or red, it will yield tasty seed pods. It’s a good idea to sow seeds (or indoor-grown starting plants) in rich, organic soil in full sun when the temperature reaches 80 degrees or above.
Although many people find okra a strange vegetable, it is a nutritious green food staple in several areas. It is best known for its use in substantial Cajun food, but it is also frequently found in vegetarian Italian, Indian, Lebanese, Japanese, and Armenian meals. Okra is a unique and surprisingly adaptable vegetable that is great to include in your dish rotation. It is also incredibly nutrient-dense and deserves its place among the world’s most prized green vegetables.
Okra has a unique flavor that is unlike any other vegetable. Being one of the most distinctive plant foods in terms of taste and texture, it is not for everyone. But it’s worth giving a shot. When sautéed or roasted until soft, it has a surface that resembles eggplant or zucchini and is slightly grassy like leafy greens, asparagus, or green beans.