Peas and edible pea pods are great fresh or preserved

Peas have a very short growing season and don’t stay fresh long after they are picked. Enjoy them fresh or preserve them for later.

Pease Porridge Hot

Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold,

Pease porridge in the pot nine days old.

Some like it hot, some like it cold,

Some like it in the pot, nine days old.

Mother Goose is cited as the author of Pease Porridge Hot but that is not known for sure. Until I found this poem online I thought the poem was written using the word 'peas', not 'pease'. Pease means porridge made from peas. When this poem was written many years ago the word pease was treated as a mass noun which simply means more than one pea.

Peas like the cool weather and are sheltered inside pea pods. Pea pods are botanically a fruit because they contain seeds. There are lots of kinds of peas. Peas with edible pea pods include sugar, Chinese and snow peas. Snow peas, also known as sugar peas, have edible flat pods with small peas inside them. Snap peas also have edible pods but they have full-size peas in them. Then there are garden peas. The pods of garden peas, or sweet peas, are not eaten.

For best quality and to preserve nutrients, only preserve what you and your family can eat in one year. When picking peas, or purchasing them, pick pea pods that are filled with young, tender peas.

To successfully freeze peas they need to be blanched. Water blanching is best for fresh peas. Blanching is simply scalding any vegetable in boiling water to stop the enzyme action that causes loss of flavor, color and texture. Blanching also cleans the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the color and retards the loss of vitamins.

Blanch peas for 1 ½ to 2 ½ minutes then place them in ice water for 1 ½ to 2 ½ minutes. The rule of thumb when blanching is that you put the vegetable in ice water for the same amount of time that you blanched it. The next step is to dry the peas, lay them on a clean towel and then pat dry. Then lay them on a tray and put them in the freezer. After a few hours they are ready to be packed into freezer bags or boxes, labeled with content and date and put in the freezer.

Correct blanching times are critical to ending up with a high quality product. Not blanching vegetables long enough stimulates the activity of enzymes and is worse than no blanching at all. Over blanching causes loss of flavor, color, vitamins and minerals. Always refer to up to date research based information when preserving such as updated Ball Blue Books, So Easy to Preserve, the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving and MSU Extension bulletins.

Michigan Fresh is found on the Michigan State University Extension website and has many fact sheets on fruits and vegetables that include recommended varieties, storage, food safety and preserving techniques.

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