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Okra, the jewel of the southern garden, can get a bad rap for being… well, slimy. You’ll find that most people are either okra lovers or haters, and thankfully most of my family is in the lover category. (Particularly if said vegetable is fried, ahem.) If you’ve ever grown okra in the garden, then you know that once it starts coming in, it can be difficult to eat it all. Once you begin to harvest okra (check out my post here on when to harvest) you have a few days to use it before it starts turning brown and soft in spots. So what’s a quick way to freeze okra for use later?
My Granny imparted her okra-preserving wisdom on me for this “recipe.” She doesn’t keep track of oven temperatures or how many minutes it should be in there, so there was a bit of testing going on. But the result was non-slimy okra ready to go in the freezer in 15 minutes from start to finish. Voila! So if you’re having a busy week, and unable to cook okra before it goes bad, here’s an easy way to get it freezer-ready in no time at all.
How to Freeze Fresh Okra
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash your tender okra pods in cool water and drain in a colander. Once relatively dry, move them to a cutting board, and decide how you’d like to cut them.
- Cut okra and place on rimmed baking sheet. I like to cut mine into 1/2 inch pieces for easy use in smoothies and soups. (If you’ve never had frozen okra in a smoothie, you’re totally missing out. The Trim Healthy Mama book introduced me to this.)
- Place baking sheet in preheated oven for 3-4 minutes. You just want the okra pieces warmed through, not cooked.
- Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. The moisture that was on the okra has dried a bit after the short time in the oven, and once cool, they are ready for the freezer.
- Place cooled okra in labeled freezer bags, and use throughout the fall and winter as needed!
- If you prefer fried okra (or “oven fried”) then you can go ahead and coat your cooled okra in cornmeal before putting it in the freezer bags.
- For freezing whole pods, cut off the tops and warm the pods in the oven. Then freeze as usual.
These freezing instructions are great for those growing okra in your home gardens. But it also is perfect if you happen to grab some fresh okra from your local farmer’s market. Fresh is fresh, and buying local veggies in season is always better than shipped-from-who-knows-where out of season. So buy up (or pick) that okra now and “put it up” (as we southerners say) for use later.
I’d love to know what your favorite okra dish is. Comment below and let me know, because I’m always looking for news ways to use this super vegetable!