Not sure how to freeze okra from the garden or farmers’ market? No worries, because okra is on the easiest vegetables to freeze.
Freezing okra for use later is a quick and easy way to keep this veggie on hand in the kitchen well past those hot summer months that okra loves so much! And this method of putting up okra in the freezer comes without the hot water blanching. Check it out!
This freezer preserving method for okra is also so easy that you can quickly take preserve a ton of okra in no time at all. Let’s get to it.
Freezing Okra from the Garden
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. Learning how to freeze okra for use later is easy as pie thanks to my Granny.
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 on my end. 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 know how to freeze okra for use later.
The Best Okra to Use for Freezing
When it comes to preserving just about anything, you want to pick it at the peak of freshness, and this is true for okra as well. In the height of okra season, plants should be checked regularly because okra can go from too small to too large in about 10 seconds, not really but pretty close.
Avoid large pods, which will be tough and woody, and instead opt for small pods which are tender. For more information on harvesting fresh okra pods, check out my post When to Harvest Okra for more specific information.
Can you freeze okra without cooking it?
The short answer is yes, but I would advise against it. The process of baking (or blanching if you want to use boiling water instead of the oven) helps break down enzymes in the okra. Breaking these down helps preserve the flavor and texture of the okra itself.
So while you certainly could give freezing okra a try without heating it, the best way is eliminate the enzyme process is either in the heat of an oven or in the cooking process of boiling water (followed by an ice bath). You can see my simple process for blanching in my post How to Freeze Green Beans. My preferred method is the oven, since these simple steps are less strenuous.
Supplies for Freezing Okra
Here’s all you’ll need to freeze okra at home!
- Whole okra pods (cut to size)
- Freezer-safe bag (or two) or freezer containers
- Sheet pan
- Parchment paper (optional)
- Sharpie (for marking the bag/container)
- Vacuum sealer (optional, but will extend freezer life)
Instructions for Freezing Okra
Now that you have fresh okra on hand that you’re not planning to use immediately, let’s learn how to get the best results for freezing it to use later. This is a great way to preserve too much okra for use all winter long, without standing over a pot or having to do much oversight.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Wash 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.
- Prep a cookie sheet or rimmed baking pan with parchment paper (or not if you like to live on the wild side).
- Cut okra and place in a single layer on rimmed baking sheet making sure individual pieces aren’t on top of each other. 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.
- Optional: Leave okra on the cooled pan and place in freezer to flash freeze. (Do this if you’re concerned about clumping. I’ve never had an issue, but feel free to take this extra step.)
- Place cooled okra in labeled freezer bags or containers. Or you can choose to use a vacuum sealer here, but be sure to put just the amount of okra you think you’ll need in each package and seal.
- Place in freezer for future use and use throughout the fall and winter as needed!
Okra Freezing Options:
- If you prefer fried okra (or “oven fried”) then you can go ahead and coat your cooled okra in cornmeal. Then lay on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer to flash freeze before putting it in the freezer bags.
- For freezing okra whole, 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.
How long does it take to cook frozen okra?
There really isn’t much difference in the time it takes to cook frozen okra versus fresh. A few more minutes in the oven or in the pot/skillet should do the trick. For my oven roasted okra recipe, I would add just a few minutes, or until the edges begin to brown.
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!
Freezing Other Garden Goods:
- Fresh Okra
- Ziploc Freezer Bags
- Sheet Pan
- Cutting Board
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Then begin by washing okra. Then slice okra into 1/2 inch thick discs. Try to keep them uniform.
- Place sliced okra on a sheet pan and place in preheated oven for 3-4 minutes or until just warmed through.
- Remove okra from oven and allow to cool.
- Once cool, scoop okra into freezer bags and place in freezer.
- Once okra is frozen, use as needed!
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