Okra is a vegetable that is popular in Southern cooking and Indian cuisine. It’s very nutritious and great for stir fry and stews. However, okra is one of those vegetables that tend to go bad quickly after it’s been harvest. This is due to the slimy substances they have. Therefore, most people will wonder how long okra can last.
So how long does okra last? At room temperature, okra will last for about 1 day. If they are kept properly in the fridge, okra can last 2 to 3 days. In the freezer, if it’s been prepared and packaged properly, okra can last about 9 months.
Above is just an estimated shelf life of okra. Other factors that affect their shelf life are the storage temperature, where it’s stored, and when was the okra harvested.
In this short guide, we’ll go through the shelf life of okra, proper storage, how to tell when they are bad, and how to keep them fresh longer. If that’s the information you’re looking for, keep reading.
Okra Shelf Life
|Okra will last||1 Day||2-3 Days||9 Months|
How Long Does Okra Last?
Okra is one of those vegetables that doesn’t seem to do well in hot weather. Once the room gets hot, the quality of the okra will start to decrease. Therefore, it’s important to know how long they last whether it’s stored at room temperature, in the fridge, or in the freezer.
At room temperature, okra will last about a day before the begins to go bad. If it’s really warm, the quality of the okra will decrease even faster. Unless you’re planning to use okra for cooking or eating within a couple of hours, it is best to store them in the fridge.
In the fridge, okra can last 2 to 3 days. Moisture is the okra’s worst enemies and if it’s exposed to any moisture while it’s in the fridge, it will go bad really quickly. This is the reason why okra doesn’t last long in the fridge as lettuce and broccoli would.
Okra stored in the freezer will last about 9 months. To keep them lasting that long, you’ll need to properly store them. In the freezer, due to having a high content of the liquid in the okra, they are easily prone to freezer burn.
Additionally, if the freezer is opened and closed often, their shelf life will be shortened drastically.
Can Okra Go Bad?
Like any other vegetable, okra will start to go bad once it’s harvested. These vegetables are usually harvested right before they start to ripen. If the okra is not harvested, they will ripen and turn brown and the outer skin will become hard.
After okra is harvest, whether it’s stored at room temperature, in the fridge, or in the freezer, the vegetable will go bad. The only difference is the time it takes them to start deteriorating.
Heat is the main source for okra going bad. Okra stored at room temperature will probably last no longer than a day. If the temperature is hotter than normal, you can expect it to last no longer than a couple of hours.
In the fridge, okra needs to be stored in an airtight container or a freezer bag to keep them fresh longer. The cool temperature slows down the ripening process, while the plastic bag or container will help prevent air from oxidating the flesh of the okra.
If the okra is stored in the freezer, they tend to go bad due to freezer burn. After a year of storage, the vegetable will start to deteriorate slowly. However, okras are still safe to eat, but you won’t enjoy the taste so much.
How To Tell If Okra Is Bad?
When okra is bad, depending on if it’s fresh or in storage, there are some signs to look for.
For fresh okra that hasn’t been harvest yet, okra that is bad will turn brown and hard. At this stage, the vegetable is ripe and is no longer good to eat. The vegetable will be almost hard as a rock and the pods inside have turn into small black seeds.
Okra that has been harvest and left at room temperature for a long time will usually go bad within a day. When they go bad, the okra will be soft and slimy. If you notice this, it’s best to throw them out.
If the okra has been stored in the fridge, it won’t go bad quickly. Sometimes, it’ll go bad within a couple of days or may last for a week. It usually goes bad when moisture is presented. Again, when okra goes bad, they will become soft and slimy but will have mold growing on them as well.
Okra that has been stored in the freezer will go bad usually from freezer burn by leaving them in there too long. If you noticed the okra has freezer burn, it’s best to throw all of them out.
How to Store Okra
Storing At Room Temperature
Storing okra at room temperature isn’t recommended unless you’re planning to eat or cook them within a couple of hours or so. If so, store the okra away from direct sunlight and other heat sources. The heat will prematurely cause the okra to go bad. As the vegetable begins to deteriorate, bacteria will start to form on it. This will not only make the okra uneatable, but it could lead to food poisoning due to the bacteria.
Storing in the Refrigerator
If you’re planning to use okra within 3 to 4 days, the best place to store them is in the fridge. The cool temperature of the fridge will slow down the ripening process which will give you some time before you need them. However, the fridge won’t prevent it from going bad though.
There’s no need to wash the okra before storing them in the fridge. Since you will not be able to dry the okra completely, some of the water will be left on the vegetable. As the okra is stored in the fridge, the moisture will cause the okra to become soft and start going bad.
Instead, simply put the okra into a resealable plastic bag and store it in the fridge. When you are ready to use them, wash them thoroughly first.
The best location in the fridge is in the crisper drawer. You’ll want to avoid as much moisture as possible. Moisture can encourage mold growth.
However, putting them into a sealable plastic bag or an airtight container is fine too.
How to Preserve Okra for a Longer Shelf Life
Okra should be stored as soon as you harvest them from the garden or buy them. These vegetables tend to go bad quickly when the weather gets hot. There are a couple of ways to store okra and keep them fresh longer. Depending on your taste and what you’ll be using them for, below are some of the options to preserve them:
To keep okra fresh, some people prefer to can them. Canning okra does take away some of the freshness, but it’s great for using to cook later.
Additionally, why canning is a great idea is that it prevents the chance of losing them to freezer burn.
In order to retain their freshness, you’ll need to properly can okra. To do this, you’ll need to use a pressure canner. If you don’t have one, this Presto Pressure Canner and Cooker can get the job done, which is available on Amazon.
With a pressure canner, it’s a simple process and doesn’t take long. With around 11 pounds of okra, you can make about 7 quarts of canned okra.
If you enjoy a crunchy and vinegar taste, you can store okra as pickled okra. Storing them as pickled okra can last for a couple of months in the pantry or the fridge if you prefer them cold.
To make pickled okra, you simply need to put fresh okra into the jars and pour the hot pickling liquid into them. You’ll need a water bath canner for the job. If you don’t have one yet, this Stainless Steel Prep N Cook Water Bath Canner will get the job done, which is found on Amazon.
After about 15 minutes in the canner, they can be eaten right away. Of course, if you like your pickled okra cold, leave them in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Can You Freeze Okra?
The freezer is another option for storing. If you’re planning to store long term, you can freeze okra. This is great if you enjoy eating okra during the winter months when fresh okra isn’t available in the garden or the grocery stores.
Okra has a tendency to go bad quickly when it’s exposed to moisture. If you’re planning to use okra often, it’s best to put the right amount of okra you need into each bag. That way, you won’t need to open and close the same bag often.
How To Freeze Okra
Freezing okra is really easy and it’s a great way to preserve the freshness for a long time. Below is what you’ll need to do to properly keep them in the freezer:
- Wash and trim okra stem. Cut the stem just far enough that the seeds aren’t exposed.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil.
- Blanch the okra for about 3-4 minutes. The larger the okra, the longer you should blanch it.
- Get out another large pot and fill it with water and ice.
- Take the okra from the boiling pot and drop it into the ice water for about 4 minutes.
- Dry okra and pack them into a freezer bag.
- Deflate the bag to remove as much air as possible.
- Seal the bag tightly and place it in the deepest part of the freezer.
To thaw frozen okra, take the whole bag of okra or the amount you need and leave them in the fridge. They should thaw in about 3-5 hours. If you need them sooner, leave them on the counter at room temperature.
However, if you’re planning on using them to cook a stew or in a stir-fry recipe, there’s no need to thaw them first. Simply drop the frozen okra into the pan and cook as usual.
How To Keep Okra Fresh Longer
The fresher the okra is and with proper storage, the longer it will last. Therefore, it starts from the grocery store if you’re buying it or from the garden if you’re harvesting it.
At the grocery store, it could be hard to tell how fresh it is. The time it’s harvested to the time it arrives on the store’s shelves could be anywhere between 1 day and a week. Therefore, you may end up with okra that lasts just a day when you take it home.
At the store, inspect the okra carefully. Fresh okra should be dry and firm to the touch. The color will be deep green with a little bit of grey.
Also, pick okra that is about 2 to 4 inches long. This is about the right size where it will be great for consumption. Any size longer could mean that it’s ripe or about to ripen. When it’s ripe, the okra will be too hard to eat or cook with.
If you’re growing them in your own garden, freshness shouldn’t be an issue. However, you should harvest them before they ripen. When it’s ready to be harvested, okra will be about 2 to 4 inches in length. With a sharp knife, cut at their tops along the thin stem. The pods should be easy to remove. If they are difficult to cut, that means the okra is overgrown and shouldn’t be harvested.
Tips: Avoid okra that is dull-colored, has visible blemishes, or is dry, shriveled, or browning.
If you’re planning to cook or consume it within 3 days, put them in the fridge as soon as possible. If they are going to be stored for later use, they should be put in the freezer. Never keep them outside at room temperature as it will shorten their shelf life quickly.
Can you freeze fresh okra without blanching?
You can but you will lose some of the okra’s color, taste, and texture. If you’re planning to use frozen okra in a couple of months, blanching isn’t necessary. Any long, blanching okra will help preserve their quality.
Why is my okra slimy?
Okra pods are known as “mucilaginous,” which results in a slimy mouthfeel when it’s cooked. This slime contains soluble fiber that is safe to consume. If you want to minimize the sliminess of the okra, keep the pods intact and cook it right away after it thaw.