Some people call okra as “ladies fingers.” It is a signature southern vegetable in the United States. The vegetable has a slender and tube-like shape. It is the most widely-eaten vegetable in the U.S, especially in the hot summer months.
It is a delicious treat, which people can cook in a variety of ways. If you love the taste of okra and want to consume it in winter, you can freeze it. In today’s article, we will tell you a few different methods to freeze okra. Read on!
What do you need?
Before you start freezing this vegetable, it is essential to get some fresh pods. Also, you need a few tools, which you can quickly get from your kitchen. However, if you don’t have these tools, you can buy them from the market. So, you will need:
- Fresh okra
- A large cooking pot and colander
- A large pot with water and ice
- White vinegar
- A sharp knife
- Cookie sheet
- Reusable freezer bags
- Baking tray with a sheet
Once you have all these things, you can accurately start the process of freezing. Here are a few steps that you need to follow. Continue reading!
First, you need to pick some fresh okra and wash them. Make sure you choose unblemished and smooth pods. Choose brightly-coloured okra and make sure they do not appear mushy. After picking fresh vegetable, you need to use the colander.
We mean to say that you must transfer them into a colander. Under the running water, you need to wash them. Rinse thoroughly and ensure the removal of all traces of debris and dirt. Don’t try to get hard on the vegetable because these pods are fragile. So, if you mishandled them, they will get bruises quickly.
You can wash this vegetable in another way. The method is easy; for example, you need to use a mixture of water and vinegar. Make sure you add 50% vinegar and 50% water in the bowl. Then, soak it in the bowl for about two minutes.
Vinegar is acidic, which will dissolve pesticide and wax residues. It will also kill bugs and bacteria. Once you have soaked the vegetable, you need to rinse them thoroughly with plain water.
After rinsing the vegetable, you need to drain off the water residue properly. Use a sharp knife to cut off the caps and stems of your favourite vegetable. Make sure you don’t cut the seed cells. If you do this, it will lead to the breaking down of the okra. Likewise, if you see white seeds, it means you have cut too much of the stem. The purpose is to trim the stems only.
Now, you have to blanch the vegetable and plunge them into ice. It is vital to separate smaller pods from the larger ones. Take some water and use it to fill a cooking pot. Put the pot on heat to boil the water. Take another pot and fill it with ice water. You must add the right amount of ice in the pot.
When you see that the water inside the pot is boiling, add larger okra into it. Leave them there for about four minutes. Once done, take them out and put them in the ice water. It will prevent the larger pods from overcooking. At the same time, the procedure is beneficial for preserving the fresh green colour.
After you have put the larger pods in the ice water, the next step is to blanch the smaller pods. Again, put them in boiling water for about two minutes. Remember, the larger pods require heating at least four minutes and the smaller ones at least two minutes. After that, you need to transfer the smaller ones from the boiling water into the ice water.
The purpose of blanching smaller and larger pods separately is to retain the texture of each. The ice water will cool off the okra within a few minutes. Once they are cold, you must transfer them into the colander to drain off excess water. Lay the okra on a tray or cookie sheet to let them dry completely.
How to freeze okra for stews
After drying the vegetable thoroughly, use a knife to chop them horizontally. It allows you to create smaller chunks of the pods. People who want to serve them in stripes can cut them vertically. The purpose is to keep the seeds intact. It does not matter how you cut them.
Next, you need to place the pieces of okra on a tray. Before placing them, cover the tray with the baking sheet. Now, create a single layer of the vegetable over the sheet. Make sure you leave some space in between each piece of the vegetable.
You can flash freeze the vegetable by putting the tray in the refrigerator for about sixty minutes. Make sure the pieces of the vegetable are slightly icy and firm. At the same time, you must not let them completely covered with frost.
One done, take out the tray and transfer the frozen pieces of okra into freezer bags. We recommend using reusable bags. Squeeze out the air after placing the vegetable in them. Seal the bags properly and put them in the freezer. It is crucial to label the name or date.
How to freeze okra for frying
People use fried okra with cornmeal. Some people also bread it with a mixture of cornmeal and flour. Well, you can do this before freezing it. So, first, you need to use plain cornmeal and add some salt and pepper in it.
Next, cut them into smaller pieces and use the dry batter to coat them. Place all individual pieces of the vegetable on the tray. Again, you have to cover the tray with a baking sheet. Just like you did for the stew, repeat the same step of flash freezing them in the freezer.
After 50-60 minutes, transfer the pieces into reusable bags. Again, squeeze out the air and seal the bags properly. Now, put the bags in the freezer and label them with names or dates. You can use frozen vegetable easily. For example, scoop the pieces out of the bags and add them to your recipes. We recommend using it immediately for cooking. Don’t thaw them.
Make sure this vegetable you are trying to freeze is fresh. Gently bend the tip of the vegetable to check the freshness. The okra is fresh when you can easily break off it with a snap. Under-ripe or stale okra will bend easily and tear. Don’t choose the vegetable with pits, spots, bruises, and signs of decay.
Fresh okra is available on the vegetable market from May to September. Other than that, you may not find the fresh vegetable. Growing them in your home garden is the best way to get fresher vegetable.
Moreover, coating it with a wet batter when you want to freeze it. You must use the frozen okra within 8-12 months to maintain its taste and quality. Freezing it is an easy and quick way to consume it for 8-12 months. You can use it to make different dishes in winter.
While others can’t get fresh okra in winter, you will have this delicious vegetable on hand in the cold months. Follow the steps given above to freeze it and use it appropriately accurately. Again, you must choose the pods that are fresh, clean, and not prone to any sort of decay.