How to Freeze Okra (Lady's Fingers)


Okra

Freezing fresh okra when it is in season is a great way to reap the health benefits of okra all year long. It is also an excellent way to preserve excess okra pods you may have on hand.

Although you can freeze okra by simply popping young and tender okra pods in the freezer in freezer-safe bags, it is best to blanch okra before freezing, especially if you plan to store it in the freezer for several months. Blanching, or plunging vegetables into boiling water (or steaming them) for a short time, inhibits the action of enzymes that cause frozen vegetables to develop off-flavors and lose color and nutrients. Below, we provide detailed instructions on how to blanch and freeze whole okra pods, also known as lady's fingers, so you can enjoy them all year long.


Prep Work

Select young, bright green okra pods that are about the size of your little finger. Wash the pods gently but thoroughly under cold running water, and cut off the stems. Be careful not to break the pods or they may get mushy in the freezer.

If you plan to store okra in the freezer for several months, it is best to blanch the pods first. Here's how it's done:

  1. Bring a stock pot of water to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, fill a bowl with ice water, and place it near the stove.
  2. Blanch the okra pods by boiling them for 3 to 4 minutes, depending on their size; then cool by submerging in the ice water bowl.
  3. Allow the okra to chill in the ice water bath for 3 to 4 minutes, then drain thoroughly.

When blanching and cooling whole okra pods, you should use large pots and bowls, and plenty of water. Using a lot of water relative to the amount of okra means that the water will quickly return to a boil after you toss the okra pods into the boiling water, and the water temperature in the ice water bath will stay low enough when you throw in the blanched okra.


Freezing Okra

After the okra pods have been blanched, chilled and drained, some people simply divide the pods into freezer bags or containers, and then stash them in the freezer. But, while this method is quick, it is not necessarily the best way to freeze okra. If you directly pop the blanched okra pods in the freezer in freezer-safe bags or containers, they may clump together in one giant mass of frozen okra, and you won't be able to scoop out just a handful of pods from a freezer bag or container. The good news is that this is easily remedied by pre-freezing the okra pods on a tray. Here's how to pre-freeze and freeze blanched okra so that the pods won't fuse together in the freezer:

  1. Line up the okra pods in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a baking mat that's freezer-safe or parchment paper.
  2. Slide the baking sheet into the freezer. Wait until the okra pods are frozen solid, then remove the sheet from the freezer.
  3. Lift the edges of the baking mat or parchment to dislodge the pods. Transfer the pods to freezer-safe bags or containers (glass freezer containers are great if you don't like to store food in plastic bags or containers).
  4. Label and date the bags or containers, and pop them in the freezer right away.



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