If you are not eating okra regularly, you are missing out. Okra has a delicate taste and crunch that adds to most dishes. It is excellent for your health and has lots of health benefits. Okra is abundant and grows in warm climates. One of the most significant areas to grow okra in South America. But doesn’t okra spoil quickly?
Did you know that drinking a slimy glass of Okra water every morning can regulate blood sugar levels and control hypertension? The slime from okra is actually soluble fiber and plays a big part in gut health.
In this article, we explore how to store okra so you can make the most of this incredibly versatile vegetable to enhance your culinary skill. We answer many frequently asked questions, bringing you essential information on how to make okra last in your kitchen.
Let’s get into it.
Does okra expire?
Okra will expire, but it is hardier than you realize. Okra is actually a fruit, but most of the time, it is treated as a vegetable.
Okra should be in a breathable package to last in your kitchen. When you buy okra from the grocery store, it is typically in a small package wrapped with cling wrap. Cling wrap will make the okra sweat shortening its shelf life.
There are some myths behind okra, such as it should not get wet before it is prepared for cooking, but this is wrong. When you unpack okra, give it a wah. Obviously, dry the okra off before storing it, but the okra will stay in better shape if it is free from the dirt it may have picked up along the way.
Okra should be stored in the fridge where there is enough space for the okra not to be crushed. Stored cool in a salad tray or vegetable compartment will keep the Okra firm, and it should last in the fridge for two weeks and even three weeks before it starts to look worse for wear.
When okra starts to expire, it may develop mold in the form of black spots. If you have okra in this condition, it should be discarded.
In its fresh form, okra is firm with a rough texture to the skin. When okra starts to turn, it becomes soft and easy to spot when okra is bad. When it’s expired, it is limp and soft.
Does okra need to be refrigerated?
Not necessarily. If you have a cool pantry and you store the okra in a paper bag, it could last equally as long as placing it in the fridge, but the pantry would need to be cold. It may become moldy if you store it with other veggies, such as potatoes.
It will also depend on how soon you will use the okra. It will be fine in the pantry if you want to store the okra for a few days before cooking. If you want to get the maximum life from okra, then pop it in the veggie crisper in the fridge.
Storing okra at approximately 32 to 40℉ will prevent mold growth and maximize the life of the okra. But don’t forget to store it in a paper bag or in plastic with holes punched so the air can circulate.
Does okra have to be covered in the fridge? Will it make a difference?
Fresh okra should be stored in a manner that it can breathe in the fridge. It lasts well if stored in a paper bag.
But when it comes to cooked okra, you should cover it while stored in the fridge. This will prevent the okra from absorbing intense aromas that could be in the fridge from, say, garlic, onion, or cucumber.
Can you put warm okra in the fridge?
It is not advisable.
Your fridge temperature will be 40℉ -18℃ or a little lower. Placing a warm okra in the fridge will elevate the fridge’s temperature while it radiates heat.
Your fridge may not be as efficient as you might have thought at removing heat. Most fridges take hours to come to 40℉ after being switched on after cleaning.
So, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that food sitting at a temperature of 40-140℉ is in the food danger zone. It’s not just your okra. It is the contents of the entire fridge.
Above 40℉-18℃ bacterial growth on perishable foods will accelerate exponentially. It should be discarded if the food remains at an elevated temperature above 40℉-18℃ for just two hours.
Seems harsh? According to the USDA, after two hours in the food danger zone, perishable foods contain enough bacteria to cause food poisoning.
Furthermore, the okra should be covered in the fridge so there will be no condensation!
How long can okra sit out?
2 hours. Cooked okra exposed to the air at room temperature has a maximum life of two hours before it should be discarded.
According to the USDA, perishable foods, which cooked okra would be classified, will become contaminated with bacteria if sitting out at room temperature.
The growth of bacteria proliferates exponentially when food is stored in the food danger zone of 40 to 140℉ after two hours. The food’s bacterial load is deemed sufficient and could cause harm if consumed.
How long does okra last in the fridge?
Uncooked okra can last for two weeks, possibly three if the storage conditions are perfect, but on the side of caution, fresh okra will last for two weeks in a fridge between 33 and 40℉.
Once cooked, the shelf life of okra in the fridge plummets to a couple of days, as expected.
It may not be possible to consume your cooked food directly after it’s been eaten, but okra would be better served after cooking as most other foods would.
Consuming foods directly after cooking reduces the risk of bacteria load. So ensure the cooked okra is covered with a sealable lid to prevent bacteria growth.
Does frozen okra go bad?
Fresh okra freezes exceptionally well if you take care of the preparation steps. It seems futile to freeze whole okra stems as you chop and dice the okra before you boil or fry it.
Top tips for freezing okra
- Wash the okra thoroughly and remove any dirt from the okra.
- Once the okra is clean, top and tail the okra with a sharp knife. Just the stalk and about an ⅛ inch from the other end.
- You can chop the okra finally, depending on what the recipe calls for, or you can cut it into larger rings as you prefer. It can be diced, sliced, and chopped up fine if you wish.
- Place the prepared okra into Ziploc freezer bags. Ziplocs are ideal for this application.
- When the Ziplocs are full, gently remove as much air as possible from the bag. Removing the air will help to prevent freezer burn.
- Once this is done, it’s time to place the okra-filled bags in the freezer. They can be stacked if you wish.
If you use this method of preparation and storage when freezing okra, you can expect the okra to freeze for 12 months and still be perfect.
If you freeze okra for longer than 12 months, it will eventually start to degrade, it may lose the gloopy slime that so many of you love, and the texture will change together with the color.
How do you thaw okra?
There is no need for you to thaw okra. You can go straight from the freezer to the pot and boil okra. You can do the same with roasting and frying.
If you are in a hurry and prefer thawed okra, then simply place the bag of frozen okra in a bowl and pour warm water over it until the okra has thawed.
Okra thaws quickly regardless of what method you use but cooks with it straight from the freezer.
If you love the slime, frozen okra will be exactly the same as fresh, slimy, and gloopy.
Can frozen okra be microwaved?
Yes. You can treat frozen okra the same way as any other frozen food. You can place it in the microwave on a defrost setting and allow it to defrost this way, or you can place frozen okra in the microwave, cook it on full for two minutes, and then put the okra in the bag.
However, there will be a burn risk, and great care should be taken when steaming in Ziploc bags. A good alternative would be to thaw and place the okra in a microwave-safe dish, cover it with cling wrap, and steam for two minutes.
Okra is a versatile fruit/vegetable with a decent shelf life of two to three wells in the fridge and 12 months when frozen.
If you follow the freezing tips for okra, the okra will be ready for cooking straight from the freezer, reducing time when preparing a meal.
Be careful when frying okra from the freezer. Thawed okra can be mushy and wet, which will cause a lot of spatter from the hot frying oil.