Okra is a vegetable that grows on short bushes all over the world. Take advantage of a crop of okra while it is in season by freezing it for a taste of summer any time of year. Cutting okra pods in thin slices before freezing allows you to have it available for immediate use without added preparation. Use cut frozen okra for gumbos, vegetable soups and stews. Deep-fry okra for a Southern specialty, or bake frozen okra for a healthy alternative.
Sort through 1 lb. of freshly cut okra, preferably from your own garden and cut from the plant within 24 hours of freezing. Remove any pods that are rotted, shriveled, limp or have holes in them. Wash the okra thoroughly under warm water to remove any dirt or debris.
Slice the stem from each okra pod, but do not cut into the seed-filled pod. Divide the pods by size into two piles - one with pods that are smaller than 4 inches in length and another group of pods that are larger than 4 inches.
Fill a large pot halfway with water. Bring the water to a boil on high heat on the stove top.
Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice water. Set it aside.
Drop the okra pods that are smaller than 4 inches in the large pot of boiling water. Allow the pods to boil for three minutes. Remove the pods immediately after three minutes using a slotted spoon. Place the okra in the bowl of ice water for five minutes to stop the cooking process and then remove these using a slotted spoon. Drain the cooled okra in a colander.
Add the larger okra pods to the boiling water. Allow these larger pods to boil for four minutes.
Remove the second batch of pods from the boiling water and add these to the ice water; add more ice as needed to cool the water. Leave the pods in the ice water for five minutes and then spoon these out into the colander to drain along with the first batch of okra.
Slice each pod of okra crosswise in 1/8-inch thick sections.
Pack the sliced okra in a quart-sized zip-close plastic freezer bag. Squish out all of the air from the bag and seal firmly. Alternatively, add the sliced okra to a plastic airtight freezer quart-sized container. Write the date you prepared the okra for freezing on the container with a permanent marker.
Store the okra in the freezer. Use within nine months for best results.
- You can bread the okra before freezing if preferred. Mix 1 cup of corn meal, 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour and 1 tsp. ground pepper in a 1-gallon-sized zip-close plastic bag. Shake the contents to blend. Add the sliced okra pods to the bag and seal. Shake well to coat each of the slices. Spoon out the sliced okra and freeze according to the previously mentioned steps.
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