Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Freezing Okra Mama's Way


As I've said before, there's no better way to eat okra than cut up, rolled in corn meal and fried... a mess of fried okr-y! A Southern tradition.

My Mama and the rest of my family always looked forward to the hottest days of summer when the okra, a heat-loving veggie began to ripen and a mess of fried okry was sure to find its way to many a summer supper, along with fresh sliced tomatoes, green beans, new potatoes cooked with just a bit of butter, and whatever additional bounty the garden offered. No meat needed! You never missed it!

Mama spent many summers trying to capture and preserve that summer "Fried Okry" flavor so we could enjoy the same yumminess come wintertime... just slicing and freezing the okra resulted in a big frozen lump that took forever to thaw and when it did was mushy and hard to roll in the meal... she tried freezing the okra pods whole but then you either had to slice hard-as-a-rock okra pods or wait til they thawed and again... mushy! Canning them resulted in slimy slimy and un-fry-able (pickled and canned are great, as is sliced and canned in veggie soup or gumbo, but we're talking okra for frying)...

So after quite some time and much trial and error, Mama came up with the following method... it's not perfect... nothing can take the place of fresh, fried okra... but it's pretty darn good...

Here's what she did... and what I did with my recent abundance of okra...

I sliced it up like I would to prepare for frying... My DH was a wonder... a gentleman and a scholar... he sliced all those itchy, slimy okra pods for me while I worked on other things... God bless that man!!!

Love Love Love that sweet man's hands!

I sprinkled a light coating of cornmeal onto the sliced okra (you want a light coating here, makes for the BEST fried okra... I hate that thick coated store-bought deep-fried stuff, it's NOT traditional, Southern-fried okra... Light coating of cornmeal! Just what sticks to the damp okra... shake off the rest!)

Then I spread the meal coated okra onto a baking pan and baked it to a partial-doneness in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. It doesn't get brown, it only sort of bakes the corn meal onto the okra and dries it out a little so it doesn't stick together so much when frozen.


I took it out of the oven after the 20 minutes or so (work in batches if you have TONS of okra!) and allowed it to cool completely.


Once it was cool, I bagged it up and vacuum sealed it (don't have to vacuum seal, it's just what I did and since I have a vacuum sealer and CAN, I did... Mama never did) Freezer bags or containers will work fine.


If you DO have a vacuum sealer and decide to vacuum your okra... stop the seal about halfway through the vacuuming step so it doesn't squish the okra completely flat! You don't want that.


Pop your bags of okra into the freezer and you have "almost as good as fresh" fried okra to look forward to next winter!










12 comments:

  1. My Mother-in-Law did this with her okra and it was delicious. I have tried every recipe and idea I have heard but my okra always tasted "green". It did not taste good. A few years ago I figured this out. I wash and cut my okra into pieces. Then I take a glass pie plate and place the cut okra on the plate. I cover with plastic wrap and put in the micro wave on high for 2 minutes. (or until color changes) I let it cool and place in single layer in plastic bag and flaten the bag and freeze. I take the okra from the freezer and let thaw for a few minutes, add cornmeal, salt and peppr and fry in oil. Tastes great. Since there is no batter on the okra I can also use it for soups. Has anyone canned okra that could be fried?? If so I would like to hear about canning since my freezers are all full.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Clair, since there's no batter, sure you can add it to soups. I WISH there was a way to can okra for frying but as far as I know, there's just not, it gets too mushy in the canning process. ~~Granny

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  2. Ok, granny thanks! just what I was lookin fer. Except once frozen like this how do you finish cooking it?

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    Replies
    1. I let it thaw out enough to be able to break apart the pieces, then fry in oil. ~~Granny

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    2. I know a person who prepares her mushrooms as if she would for eating. but she freezes them on a cookie sheet, when frozen she bags up and throws the in the freezer. to use them, she dumps them out on a cookie sheet and puts them in a 350-375 degree oven to reheat them. just like fresh... so I am thinking okra could be done the same way. I am going to try this. is also, want okra for soups, so am going to slice them, freeze on sheets them in bags. this way they won't stick together.

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  3. Could summer squash be done this way?

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  4. Is Southern baked okra just as good? Got heart disease in family....trying to make it a slight healthier?

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    Replies
    1. It's not QUITE as good... but is an acceptable, healthier alternative. ~~Granny

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  5. I've canned okra in tomato juice, to use in soups. Haven't been able to do a lot, because I didn't have that much okra :) But it seems to take care of the slime, and I'm happy with it!

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  6. I have a question for you. When you tried just freezing them without cornmeal, did you blanch the okra before freezing? I know it will turn to mush if you don't blanch first. I am thinking about my summer garden and how I will store everything, and found your blog in my research. I will try your cornmeal method, but I would also like some plain. So, did the mush happen even though you blanched, or did you not try blanching?

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  7. you said you cut then cover with the cornmeal. do you wash it after its cut? or do you leave the slime?

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  8. Great post! I did this for years. Corn allergy (and wheat) prevents me from using corn meal and so I use brown rice flour. Works very well and makes the okra crunchy and delicious. When I fry it, I make it very crunchy and after it cools and the grease drains from it on paper towels, I place it into containers and pop it into the freezer. It retains its crunch even when frozen and thawed. My question is - is it possible to can it after it's fried? Perhaps in an oven like one would for dry ingredients? Most of the grease leaves the okra so it's not mushy like okra fried with flour or cornmeal can be at times. It's like eating popcorn. Thanks!

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