The Okra or Okro, popularly nicknamed the “lady’s finger” because of its slender look, thrives in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions.
The plant is found in Ethiopia and some West African Countries and is available all year round. The whole vegetable is completely edible with a green coloured exterior and a slimy interior. One of the reasons why it is widely loved and eaten is because of its nutritional values, as popularly said, “you are what you eat”. Below are the nutritional values of Okra, its calorie level as well as how to freeze or preserve it in the fridge.
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Okra is one of the vegetables recommended for weight loss and cholesterol control programs, owing to the fact that it has minimal calories; contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. The vegetable is safe, nutritious and believed to help protect against certain diseases. In addition to that, Okra helps manage blood sugar for people with diabetes type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Above all, Okro is rich in vitamins and is a good way to get folic acid, vitamin C, Potassium, Calcium, dietary fibre into your food. Overall, this vegetable is flavourful and filling.
How To Freeze Okra
When you freeze Okra, you preserve its nourishing elements throughout the winter season. Amazingly, there are so many ways to preserve this awesome vegetable and they are all easy.
But, we suggest you choose the method that suits you the most. In preserving Okra, there are things you should bear in mind. First, the Okra to be preserved should be free from all spots, so, avoiding ones with terrible pits, spots, and other marks suggesting decay when you are buying the vegetable is a good idea.
Also, recently plucked Okra is firm, easy to cut and fresh, this means you should choose pods straight out of the garden. Having said that, you will need to wash the Okra properly, no matter how you intend to preserve it.
The next step is cutting off the stems of the Okra. You should avoid cutting into the seed cells, thus if there are seeds in the stems you are cutting off, then you are doing it the wrong way.
Blanching the Okra follows right after this and it is done by putting the vegetable in a pot of boiling water. Tiny pods shouldn’t be blanched for not longer than 3 minutes while bigger ones can go up to four minutes. This process disallows enzyme process (which can cause decay even when the Okro is frozen) so that the vegetable can retain its freshness, flavour and texture for long.
When you are done with blanching, transfer the vegetables into an ice water bath to cool off. You can then cut the vegetable into slices if you want or just store the whole pods in a container, bag or tray.
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After blanching, you can still fry before freezing. If you like to have your Okra fried even after blanching, try using a skillet to do so. To do this, cut the pods diagonally before sprinkling with flour or cornmeal and quickly freezing in a tray lined with parchment.
Blanching isn’t the only way to retain the freshness of this great vegetable. You can fry or bake it as well.
Using frying method, simply cook your sliced Okra for 8 minutes max and six minutes minimum using a frying pan before freezing.
For the baking method, slice and bake in 300-degree oven for 20 minutes before freezing. Note that in both methods, as you might expect, you need to freeze the Okra briefly in a parchment-lined tray before putting in the freezing bags or container.
You are also advised to use the frozen Okra within a year when the pods are not sliced and nine months when the pods are cut into pieces.
Quick Nutrition Facts
1. Eases Digestion
In a very rich amount, okra contains dietary fibre which helps in digestion and eases constipation.
2. Improves Vision
With nutrients like vitamin A and a high level of anti-oxidants- beta-carotene, xanthin and lutein, okra helps to improve situations of impaired vision.
It contains Flavonoids that help in the prevention of lung and oral cavity cancers; regulates the intestinal metabolisms and cleanses the tract, keeping it safe from ulcers and colon cancers. Also, it contains vitamin A, which is good for a healthy skin and serves as a natural laxative.
4. Fetal Formation
It contains Folates which help in the healthy formation of babies at the fetal stage.
5. Boosts Immunity
Okra is a good vitamin-C source; helps the human body develop immunity against infectious agents, cold/cough and protects the body from harmful free radicals.
6. Blood Circulation
Okra vegetable helps in fostering a healthy blood circulation and is also good for anaemic conditions; production of red blood cells. It also contains Vitamin K which is responsible for blood clotting.
Because of its antioxidant and Vitamin C properties, okra helps in the treatment of asthma/respiratory conditions. Okra leaves have anti-inflammatory properties which suit the respiratory/ urinary/genital treatments.
8. Healthy Bones
It contains Calcium and Vitamin K, which are responsible for building strong bones, thus, helps to prevent such health cases as Osteoporosis.
9. Body Development
As a good protein source, the okra vegetable helps in body growth as well as in giving a healthy hair.