This month's notes: May 2013: The cool weather has delayed blooms and slowed growth by a couple of weeks, but don't miss strawberries: they started in most Southern areas in late April, and in late May up north. Click here for strawberry facts and picking tips, and this page for easy strawberry jam making directions. Blueberries will come in June in most areas. Of course, Florida, southern Texas, and other very warm areas are already picking both crops! See this page for hundreds of easy canning and freezing instructions/recipes, canning equipment guide! Also make your own ice cream - see How to make ice cream and ice cream making equipment and manuals. Then see each state's crop availability calendar for more specific dates of upcoming crops. Organic farms are identified in green! See our guide to local fruit and vegetable festivals!. Please tell the farms you found them here - and ask them to update their information!!
How freeze peas and other peas from your garden or the shop - Easily! With Step-by-step Photos, Recipe, Directions, Ingredients and Costs
How to Freeze Peas
More photos and a PDF print version coming
If you like frozen peas in the winter, just imagine how good it would taste if you had picked a bag yourself and then quickly froze it at home! It is also one of the simplest ways to put up a vegetable for the winter. Here's how to do it, complete instructions in easy steps and completely illustrated. The peas will taste MUCH better than anything you've ever had from a store.
Directions for Freezing peas
Ingredients and Equipment
Step 1 - Get yer peas!
This is the most important step! You need peas that are FRESH and crisp. Limp, old peas will make nasty tasting frozen peas. Guests will probably throw them at you.. Select filled but tender, firm, crisp peas. Remove and discard any soft, diseased, spotted and rusty pods.
Peas are of the best quality when they are fully expanded but immature, before they become hard and starchy. Peas should be picked immediately before cooking because their quality, especially sweetness (like that of sweet corn), deteriorates rapidly. FYI, the pods on the lower portion of the plant mature earliest. If there is a delay between harvesting and freezing, put it in the refrigerator or put ice on it. And don't use peas that are old, overripe, starchy or have leathery, wrinkled pods.
How many peas and where to get them
You can grow your own, pick your own, or buy them at the grocery store. About 14 pounds of peas makes 7 quart jars; or 9 pounds is needed per 9 pints. A bushel, which produces anywhere from 13 to 20 quarts, weighs 30 pounds. That works out to an average of 2 pounds of peas per finished quart jar.
Start with fresh peas - as fresh as you can get.
Step 2 - Wash the peas!
I'm sure you can figure out how to rinse the pea pods in plain cold water. Since the peas are secure in the pods, this step isn't really necessary, unless the pods are very muddy or dirty or they are edible-podded peas (snow peas, snap peas, sugar snaps, managetout).
Step 3 -Hull the peas
find it easiest to just grab the stem end, and press my thumbnail into the seam,
squeezing the pod gently. It usually opens right up, and I can use a
finger to push the peas out.
Obviously, this step is unnecessary for edible-podded peas like snap peas. Just snap off the tips and pull the "strings" off. Don't fret if you don't find any strings modern varieties are fairly stringless.
Step 4 - Get the pots ready
Get the pot of boiling water ready (about 2/3 filled) and a LARGE bowl with ice and cold water.
Step 5 - Blanch the peas.
All fruits and vegetables contain enzymes and bacteria that, over time, break down the destroy nutrients and change the color, flavor, and texture of food during frozen storage. peas requires a brief heat treatment, called blanching, in boiling water or steam, to destroy the enzymes before freezing. Blanching times for peas is 1 and a half minutes (90 seconds) - the duration is just long enough to stop the action of the enzymes and kill the bacteria.
Begin counting the blanching time as soon as you place the peas in the boiling water. Cover the kettle and boil at a high temperature for the required length of time. You may use the same blanching water several times (up to 5). Be sure to add more hot water from the tap from time to time to keep the water level at the required height.
Step 6 - Cool the peas
Cool peas immediately in ice water. Drain the peas thoroughly (this shouldn't take more than a minute).
After vegetables are blanched, cool them quickly to prevent overcooking. Plunge the peas into a large quantity of ice-cold water (I keep adding more ice to it). A good rule of thumb: Cool for the same amount of time as the blanch step. For instance, if you blanch sweet peas for 90 seconds, then cool in ice water for at least 90 seconds.
Step 7 - Bag the peas
I love the FoodSavers (see this page for more information) with their vacuum sealing! I am not paid by them, but these things really work. If you don't have one, ziploc bags work, too, but it is hard to get as much air out of the bags. remove the air to prevent drying and freezer burn. TIP: If you don't own a vacuum food sealer to freeze foods, place food in a Ziploc bags, zip the top shut but leave enough space to insert the tip of a soda straw. When straw is in place, remove air by sucking the air out. To remove straw, press straw closed where inserted and finish pressing the bag closed as you remove straw.
Step 8 - Done!
Pop them into the freezer, on the quick freeze shelf, if you have one!
Freezing keeps greens safe to eat almost indefinitely, but the recommended maximum storage time of 12 months is best for taste and quality. The quality of the frozen greens is maintained best in a very cold freezer (deep freezer), and one that keeps them frozen completely with no thaw cycles. Excluding any air from inside the bags which leads to freezer burn, by using vacuum-sealed bags, is also important to maintaining quality
- Harvest early in the morning, especially if the weather is hot, to get peak flavor.
- Harvest the peas at its peak maturity (firm, straight, not lumpy)
- Process promptly after harvesting, or keep cooled in the fridge or with ice until then.
Frequently Asked Questions
- I've frozen peas but they seem so bland, starchy or rubbery after being cooked. Any
Generally, that means the peas were either old to being with, or they were overcooked. It only takes 90 seconds to blanch the peas, then plunge them immediately into ice water.
- How long can they be frozen?
It depends upon how cold is your freezer and how you packed them. Colder (deep freezes) are better than frost free compartments, which actually cycle above freezing (that's how they melt the ice). Vacuum packing results in longer storage capability, too. Thicker bags also help prevent freezer burn.
In general, up to 9 months in a ziploc bag in an ordinary freezer, and 14 months in a deep freeze in a vacuum packed bag. After that, they peas won't make you sick; they just won't taste as good.
I love the FoodSavers (see this page for more information) with their vacuum sealing! Here's an example of one model:
Don't forget the Ball Blue Book!
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[General picking tips and a guide to each fruit and vegetable] [How much do I need to pick? (Yields - how much raw makes how much cooked or frozen)] [Selecting the right varieties to pick] [All about apple varieties - which to pick and why!] [Picking tips for Vegetables] [ Strawberry picking tips] [ Blueberries picking tips]
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