There is no rest for the wicked at our place. Our peas are ready in the garden, and there is a very narrow window of opportunity to get them picked and into the freezer before they get too old. So after returning home from the cottage yesterday, we took the kids along to the garden and picked through 6 rows of peas – it took 4 of us almost an hour, though I think the small squeaky kid slowed us down by eating more than she put in the bucket.
The husband told me later that since some things, like peas, are necessary to pick and process quickly, that is why tractors and farm equipment have right of way on the ferries in our area over normal vehicles. Huh. I’d never thought of that before, but it makes sense.
We managed to pick 2 big buckets of peas. In a few days I’ll return and pick over the remaining pods. We shelled peas (it took the tall kid, the dad and I the last 4 innings of the Blue Jays’ game to get them all done) and put them in cold water until after dinner when we could finish processing them. Getting them ready to freeze is easy, just a little labour intensive.
How to Freeze Peas
- fresh peas – any quantity (the rule of thumb is one handful per serving)
- large pot of boiling water (I use a large pot with a pasta cooking insert, it makes removing the peas easy)
- large bowl or sink full of cold water and ice
- freezer bags
Pick your peas. You need peas that are fresh and crisp. Select filled but tender, firm, crisp peas. Remove and discard any yellow, soft, spotted and rusty pods or pods that are leathery or wrinkled (too old). Peas are of the best quality when they are fully expanded but immature, before they become hard and starchy. They should be picked immediately before cooking because their quality (sweetness) deteriorates rapidly. If there is a delay between picking and freezing, put them in the refrigerator or (like we did) put them in a large bowl of cold water.
Shell the peas (obviously).
Boil your water and set up your ice water bath. Get the pot of boiling water ready (about 2/3 filled) and a large bowl with ice and cold water.
Blanch the peas. Vegetables contain enzymes that can break down the destroy nutrients and change the colour, flavour, and texture of food during frozen storage. Blanching time for peas is 90 seconds – the duration is just long enough to stop the action of the enzymes and kill bacteria. Begin counting the blanching time as soon as you place the peas in the boiling water. You can use the same blanching water each time – you may have to refill some water occasionally between batches to keep the water level the same.
Cool the peas. Pull peas (mine were in the pasta strainer) out of pot immediately after the 90 seconds is up and plunge (the strainer) into the ice water bath – this stops them from overcooking. Keep in the water bath until completely cooled. Drain the peas thoroughly (this shouldn’t take more than a minute).
Pop the peas into freezer bags in whatever quantity you want. I put 3 cups of peas in each medium freezer bag – the perfect amount for two adults and two kids. I also stack them flat on cookie sheets to freeze – things freeze easier and faster in a single flat layer than as one large mass and they are easier to stack in the freezer this way. That’s it. Now just freeze them until you want them. We ended up with 8 baggies of peas when we were done. Not a huge amount, but they will taste soo good. Plus, we’ve got another picking or maybe two before they are completely done and we planted another row a short time ago for a later harvest.