Nothing says “spring” quite like the unique taste of fresh-off-the-vine crispy and sweet green peas…
Peas are one of the very first crops you can plant in the spring and therefore are one of the first crops you can harvest and enjoy. Just yesterday, I picked over two pounds of peas from my vines and immediately shelled them and enjoyed them for dinner. I simply love peas, except for one thing: Peas tend to be a quick crop. I usually only harvest them for a few weeks. Once the weather gets too hot, they are finished until fall or the following spring.
Eat ‘Em Up
There are many different ways to enjoy your fresh peas. Perhaps the very best way is to simply eat them right of the vine, with no cooking at all! Just wash, crunch, and enjoy. Our resident chef here at Heirloom Solutions says that is his very favorite way to eat them.
Personally, I like to throw fresh peas into pasta dishes and salads. They give the dish a flavorful “crunch” that can’t be beat. My children like to eat them plain; almost like they are eating candy! Something about that tiny green pea shape makes them a fun novelty for children.
Other ways to enjoy fresh peas:
-Saute in butter or coconut oil for just 2-3 minutes and then enjoy in pasta, risotto, or as a side dish.
-Blanch with a few chopped mint leaves and serve with butter.
-Throw them in homemade soups.
-Cook in chicken broth for a rich taste.
-Puree into pea soup.
-Excellent paired with seafood or chicken.
-Make your own homemade baby food.
Make sure to choose small and tender peas for best flavor. They are sweeter and more tender than the larger peas. (The bigger the pea, the tougher the texture.) Once you pick them, the sugar content will change quickly, making them starchy and dull if you don’t eat or freeze them rather quickly. Choose pods that are bright green and firm, just slightly heavy or swollen. You can break open a pod to check the peas inside if you are not sure. I’ve also found that each person has their own preference as to the “perfect” sized pea for eating. I actually like the plump ones just fine, but some folks do not and will only eat the tiny peas.
Harvest in the early morning for peak taste.
If you like frozen peas in the winter, you’ll love freezing your homegrown peas! It is simple and easy to do, and is a great way to put up food for the winter. Plus, your homegrown frozen peas will taste so much better than anything you buy at the store.
1. Pick, hull, and then wash peas in cold water immediately.
2. Blanch your peas for 90 seconds.
3. Cool the peas immediately in ice water for another 90 seconds.
4. Drain and dry the peas well. (Be gentle, you don’t want squished peas!)
5. Place into freezer bags. Remove as much excess air as possible.
6. Put bags into the freezer, and you’re done! Peas will store for up to 12 months (and perhaps a little longer) but the sooner you eat them, the fresher the taste and less chance of freezer burn.
Save Your Pods!
You can make broth with your pea pods. After shelling, save the pods to make a broth that nicely enhances soups and other dishes. Place your clean pods in a pot and cover with at least one inch of water. Add some salt and chopped onion. Simmer for 30 minutes and strain out the pods. The broth that is left behind is simply delicious! Store in the refrigerator for a few days; in the freezer for a few months.