Preserving the Harvest – English Peas

Peas on the Vine
Peas on the Vine

Along the Front Range of Colorado English Peas are getting ready to come off the vine. Those little bites of sunshine are something I want to savor all year long.

I find that the best way to preserve English Peas is to freeze them. First you get to spend a leisurely few hours shelling the peas. You want to do this fairly promptly after harvesting or purchasing them as extra moisture in the pile of unshelled peas can quickly make the whole batch go bad fast. A bushel of peas in the pods will yield a couple of good sized bows of peas to freeze.

I rinse them a few cupsful at a time to get any extra leave or other things off.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. I also set my tea kettle to boil too as you will likely need to replace some water during the process of par boiling the peas. I have a sieve that hooks on to the top of my pan. A cup or two at a time is about all you want to par boil because you want the peas to have room to move around. After adding the peas wait for the water to come back to a rolling boil and in 90 seconds they are parboiled. Then drop them into a colander submerged in ice water to stop the cooking process. This method helps keep the bright green color.

Add water as needed to keep plenty there for the peas to boil in. The ice water bath will need additional ice cubes as you work.

These beauties will provide a bit of summer all winter when froxen
These beauties will provide a bit of summer all winter when frozen.

I dry them on a tea towel or paper towels to get the excess moisture off. At this point some people like to lay them out on a cookie sheet and flash freeze them before bagging them for the freezer. I find that just bagging them works well for me. I like to get as much air out as possible without squashing the peas. When using them I may need to whack the bag on the counter a few times to loosen the peas before cooking.

Be sure to label your bags with the contents and the date. It is amazing how peas and chopped green pepper can look very similar when you are in a hurry!