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How to Freeze Fresh Okra

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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 on when to harvest okra) 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.

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.

If you’re interested in freezing more than just okra, check out my affordable e-book Quick and Easy Freezer Preserving which takes you through how to freeze many vegetables, fruits, and herbs!

Supplies for Freezing Okra

Here’s all you’ll need to freeze okra at home!

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.

  1. 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. 
  2. Prep a cookie sheet or rimmed baking pan with parchment paper (or not if you like to live on the wild side).     
freezing okra
  1. 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.)
freezing okra
  1. Place baking sheet in preheated oven for 3-4 minutes. You just want the okra pieces warmed through, not cooked. 
freezing okra
  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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. 
  4. Place in freezer for future use and use throughout the fall and winter as needed!
freezing okra

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:

Yield: One Gallon Bag

How to Freeze Fresh Okra

freezing okra

Learn how to freeze okra and extend your harvest well into the fall and winter. Preserving the harvest by freezing is a quick and easy way to have okra on hand!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Active Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Materials

  • Fresh Okra
  • Ziploc Freezer Bags

Tools

  • Sheet Pan
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Then begin by washing okra. Then slice okra into 1/2 inch thick discs. Try to keep them uniform.
  2. Place sliced okra on a sheet pan and place in preheated oven for 3-4 minutes or until just warmed through.
  3. Remove okra from oven and allow to cool.
  4. Once cool, scoop okra into freezer bags and place in freezer.
  5. Once okra is frozen, use as needed!

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Mary

Tuesday 13th of February 2024

Thanks for the freezing instructions. We tried last year but didn’t see your instructions for harvesting and most were too woody. Will definitely fix this summer. We slice in half lengthwise spray with canola oil spray sprinkle with S&P and garlic powder and put right on the bbq grill til crisp and charred. Love it!

Courtney

Thursday 15th of February 2024

Those grilled okra sound delicious!

Teresa

Monday 24th of July 2023

Thank you for the instructions. I have not seen instructions for prepping okra for the freezer like this. I will definitely be trying it out. You may have heard of or even tried okra cooked this way but I thought I would add my fav way to eat okra. Fried okra with green tomatoes. The okra is cut into slices around 1/2 inch. I quarter the tomato. However if it is large I will then cut the quarters in half or thirds, depending on the size. I generally use a mix of flour, corn meal, salt, and pepper. The mix has a little more meal than flour, and salt and pepper to taste. I put the okra in the pan first and let it begin to cook until I see it is just beginning to turn brown. Then I add the tomatoes on top spreading them out to make an even layer. I let the mix cook for a bit and then I combine the okra and tomatoes allowing the mix to brown before I turn them again. I like mine to be well done so I will turn them several times before they are cooked to perfection, my way, lol.

Courtney

Tuesday 1st of August 2023

That sounds delicious Teresa! Thank you so much for sharing!

Little Family Grows Roots

Sunday 15th of August 2021

This method for preserving Okra was so easy! I have to admit, I tried fresh Okra in my smoothie this afternoon. I did a lemonade base with okra, green apple and fresh ginger, and it was quite good. I took a phone call and let the smoothie sit for about a half-hour and wound up having to re-blend it. The Okra 'slime' collected together and I had one big glob of it in the smoothie. LOL -- was still amazingly good. Thank you for sharing!

Courtney

Monday 16th of August 2021

I'm so glad you tried it! And the apple with ginger sounds amazing! I don't think I've ever had the slime come together, but I'll keep in mind your tip about blending again. Thank you so much for stopping by!

Donna Stormer

Wednesday 28th of July 2021

My favorite way to eat okra is to make my favorite chicken soup recipe with a little less broth, minus the noodles parsley and celery. Then I use okra instead of noodles then I ladle that over a chunked up Avocado! The tastes, textures and creaminess is amazing!!

Courtney

Wednesday 28th of July 2021

That sounds amazing! Thank you for sharing!

Melody

Thursday 15th of October 2020

The temperature at the top says 350, the recipe says 300. Will you please post or send the correct temperature. I have 12 lbs of okra to put up and would really like to try your method.

Courtney

Friday 16th of October 2020

Hi Melody, so sorry for any confusion; I've adjusted the instructions, but you could really use either. You just want to dry the okra out a bit. Hope this helps!

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