Stock up on okra while you can because this crop is so easy to freeze.

We can't wait for okra season, really. But every year it seems to go by before we can even get our fill. But never fear! The freezer is here. Okra might only be in season for a few months, but freezing a fresh crop will make it last all year. The best part is, it's so easy to do. Follow these five simple steps to freeze okra the right way. And get ready to enjoy fried, roasted, and stewed okra year-round.

How to Freeze Okra Step-by-Step

Freezing is the easiest way to store fresh okra for year-long enjoyment (learn how to can it here). Following these five easy steps will ensure your okra stays at peak freshness all year long. Here's how you do it:

1. Wash and Stem Okra

Start with fresh okra. Young, unblemished, and tender okra is always best. Soak the whole okra pods in a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar. This will help to dissolve any pesticide and fertilizer residue (and get rid of bugs... yikes). Soak the okra in the solution for a couple of minutes, and rinse clean. Cut off the stems of the okra.

2. Blanch and Shock Okra

Now for blanching — this process is vital when freezing most vegetables, because it will halt the enzyme process so the okra maintains its fresh color and flavor. Blanch the okra by submerging it in boiling water for up to four minutes. Then immediately stop the cooking process by draining the okra and then submerging it in an ice bath — a large bowl of ice and water. Let the pods cool for a few minutes and then drain again.

3. Chop Okra (or don't)

Depending on how you like to enjoy your okra, you can either chop it into bite-sized pieces now or leave the okra pods whole. If you plan on frying the okra, you can go ahead and toss the okra in your cornmeal mixture before freezing.

4. Freeze Okra on a Baking Sheet

To keep your okra from freezing in one giant clump, you'll need to first give the pods a "flash freeze." To do this, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the okra on top in a single layer. Make sure none are overlapping. Place in the freezer until okra is completely solid, about four hours to overnight.

5. Transfer Okra to Freezer Bag

Once the okra is frozen, transfer it from the baking sheet to a freezer-safe bag. Try to get as much air out of the bag as you can before sealing it. Label the bag with the date and store in the freezer for up to a year. When you're ready to use, simply cook the okra straight from the bag, no thawing required.

Frozen okra pods
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