So we have a lot of peas this year. With over 12 pounds of shelling peas already and a lot more to come. Thank heaven for our freezer. Both our families always had big chest freezers when were were growing up. So we decided early in our marriage that we needed one as well. We opted for an upright freezer and spent some extra money to get a good quality one.
Freezing is our favorite way to preserve most of our garden produce. It’s quicker, easier and much less messy than canning or drying. From the reading we have done it also is one of the better ways to preserve nutrients in the food.
There are two methods for freezing peas, blanching or no blanching. I did some research and found quite a controversy between the methods. We normally do not blanch our peas but there are arguments for both methods. So given that controversy I will give you directions for both but know that we don’t normally blanch any of our smaller veggies or fruits.
The first step in either method is to wash the peas. Rinse them well to remove any dirt before you shell them. Then shell the peas and wash them well again. If you are going to blanch them then you do it in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. After the two minutes you should put the peas in ice water for another 2 minutes. Drain them well and then pack them in your choice of container and freeze.
Of course you always wash the peas before and after shelling. It has become a family tradition for us to spread a blanket under a tree outside and to sit as a family and talk while we shell the peas. Most (but not all) of the kids look forward to this and we have a good time and it sure makes the work go faster. The only disadvantage is fewer peas actually make it to the bowl because the kids eat about every third pod!
We try to get the peas frozen as soon after picking as we can. That’s not to say you can’t store them in the fridge for a few days but the sooner the better.
After they are shelled wash them really good and let them drain and dry a little. Instead of packing them straight into a container we have added a step. We spread the peas out on cookie tray and then put them in the freezer over night. (Be sure to spray the cookie sheet to help them not stick). Freezing them flat like this means every pea is frozen as individuals, instead of in one big hunk. It is so much easier to get a serving size out of the bag when they are not all stuck together.
The next day simply use a spatula to loosen them from the tray and then pack them into you container of choice. You can use plastic freezer bags, or plastic freezer containers or even glass. Most veggies will stay good in a freezer for about 9 to 12 months. Don’t forget to add a date to your container.
Any time we talk about preserving food here on Stoney Acres I always add this little disclaimer. You shouldn’t just take our word for it! Our advise can never replace the professional advice you will receive from a recent preserving guide book (like the Ball Blue Book) or from your local state university extension agency. Please seek out one of these sources for additional information. Food preserving guidelines are constantly changing and it is important to stay up to date on the information.