Jul 6, 2023
Okra is one of the many vegetables that are great to have in your food. It goes so well with sour soup and makes gumbos filling and satisfying. However, it does age rather quickly. This crunchy, juicy vegetable can become leathery and dry in a few days. That’s why freeze-drying okra is the best way to preserve it without sacrificing too much flavor and texture.
You usually get okra in bags, so you don’t have many options in picking the best ones for freeze-drying. However, if you want the best ones, you should be able to inspect every single vegetable. The Star of David variety is also recommended because it’s less slimy and good for frying.
You hold the vegetable in your hand with the slender part pointing upwards. Then using your thumb, push and bend that tip off until it snaps. Fresh and young okra will have the tips snap off almost immediately. Old ones will bend and won’t snap off.
You could go with ones whose tips don’t snap off. But only if you’re dealing with small, young okra. For large, mature ones, better choose other okra as these are tough and very fibrous. The texture is almost similar to eating a small bunch of young straws. Yes, it’s certainly not a pleasant experience.
Preparing okra for freeze-drying is just like the way you would when you’re about to cook it.
The first and most crucial step is to wash the vegetable thoroughly to food-born microorganisms. Running water is fine, but you can use a large bowl of water if you’re conserving water. Replace the water until it’s clear, just to be sure.
You can blanch or okra or not; it’s up to you. Blanching, though, keeps the taste and texture. So, when it comes to crunchy vegetables such as this, blanching enhances the eating experience.
To blanch, first, trim off the stem ends. If you can’t cut through the ends, discard it because that okra is too hard to eat. Next, boil a pot of water big enough to hold your vegetable. Use enough water so that all of them get fully submerged.
Let the okra boil until every piece becomes a brighter green color. Do 2-3 minutes for small okra and 4-5 minutes for medium to large okra. Don’t let them turn brown because that means you boiled off all the flavor and nutrients.
Dunk the vegetables into a bowl of ice water and let it sit for 2-3 minutes. This will stop the cooking process and lock in all that flavor and nutrients.
Some cut their okra, and some don’t. We recommend cutting them into small pieces between 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, especially for medium and big ones. This helps expose the seeds for more efficient freeze-drying.
Pre-freezing is an option, but it’s highly recommended to save time and electricity. While your freeze dryer’s working on a current batch, put your okra in a freezer for at least 48 hours. Of course, you can go overnight, but Harvest Right recommends 48 hours for a more efficient process.
If you do pre-freeze, remember to use only ice-cold trays. This will help prevent melting and condensation that can affect the result of the freeze-dried product.
Once everything’s ready, it’s time for you to start freeze-drying!
Freeze-drying okra can take 30-40 hours, depending on how much okra you’re processing. It can also take longer if you’re freeze-drying whole ones.
The reason is that these little finger vegetables have many seeds in them. They don’t freeze-dry very well because their external membrane prevents moisture loss. If you have a lot of things to do and can’t babysit your freeze dryer, this is an excellent veggie to process.
Freeze-dried okra can last for 1-5 years. Remember we mentioned the seeds earlier? Moisture left in the seeds can interfere with the stability of the food. (continue)
Rehydration will depend on how you intend to use the freeze-dried okra.
If you’re going to fry them, you can sprinkle them with a bit of water or cover them in paper towels. The slices absorb moisture like a sponge, so you don’t need much. The less water you add, the better crunch you’ll get when you fry them.
If you’re using them in soups or gumbo, there is no need to rehydrate them. Instead, add them to your pot like you would fresh ones and let them soften as they cook. They will take in moisture as you cook, which you can quickly remedy by adding more water.
Do you want to try freeze-dried okra first, or don’t you have time to freeze-dry your own? Here are some of the places where you can get freeze-dried okra online:
The Sweet Bell Pepper packages their freeze-dried okra in 0.7oz resealable Mylar bags. You can buy a pack for $7.00, which you can pay through Shop Pay, PayPal, Amazon Pay, and Google Pay.
No reviews on the website, though. Also, the package says that it’s processed and prepared without state inspection.
You can buy freeze-dried okra in bulk or small snack packs. This is convenient if, after trying, you’d want to have more for your supply. Also, if this is the first time you’re cooking with it, they have tips on how to use it.
How good is it? One customer said she ordered 5 lbs worth, which is a lot, right? But it was so good that she kept grabbing handfuls each time she passed by. Eventually, she’d have to order another bag soon. Another is delighted she can make gumbo all year round.
One, though, got a bag that didn’t reconstitute well. Most of the freeze-dried okra was tough and fibrous. Unfortunately, she had to give most of it away.
Packit Gourmet is known for being one of the companies that offer the best freeze-dried food.
Their freeze-dried okra is made using only 100% okra. You get it packed in a bag with a net weight of 0.5 oz (14g) that costs $5.49.
No reviews yet, but it might be worth considering since it came from Packit Gourmet.
Sadly, there aren’t many companies you can buy FD okra from. But if you find a brand you like, please share in the comment section.
Freeze-dried okra tastes just like fresh ones. The taste is intense, and it’s perfect for snacking. Very few could tell the difference if nobody mentioned that it was freeze-dried. Making your own can be so satisfying, and you know what you’re getting. But if you don’t have the time, it won’t hurt to buy from reputable brands.
What do you want to do with your freeze-dried okra? Please share your ideas in the comment section.
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