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Best food preservation methods for green peas, snow peas and snap peas

Green peas, shelled peas, sugar snap, snow peas (C.Cancler)
Sugars in fresh peas begin converting to starch as soon as they are picked. So be sure to preserve them as soon as they are harvested or purchased.

  • Preserve shelled green peas by freezing, salting (brining), drying, or canning.
  • Preserve pea pods (snow peas and sugar snap peas) by freezing or salting. Try some dried, too, and see if you like using them in favorite recipes after preserving this way.
  • Preserve dried green peas by canning for ready-to-use peas in soups, or drained for use in salads, pilafs, or veggie burgers.

How to prepare green peas or pea pods

  • Shell green peas by splitting the pods and scooping out peas; discard pods.
  • Snow peas may be sliced or left whole.
  • Sugar snap peas are left whole; both pea and pod are eaten.
  • If desired, you may remove the string on snow peas or sugar snap peas. To remove the string, trim or pinch the curly blossom end (opposite the stem) and pull down the inside curve, pulling out the string.
  • For best results before freezing, salting (brining), drying either peas or pods, steam-blanch prepared vegetables 1 to 2 minutes (until tender-crisp). Cool in ice water (10-30 minutes) and drain in a colander.

One pound of green peas is equivalent to 3 to 4 cups pods, 1 to 1½ cups shelled peas, and 1 to 1½ cups pea purée. One pound of snow peas or sugar snap peas is equivalent to 2 to 3 dry pints (4 to 6 cups trimmed).

Freezing green peas or pea pods

Spread prepared, blanched, and drained shelled peas or pea pods on a parchment lined tray. Freeze 30 minutes, or until solid. Pack into freezer- safe containers. You may also want to read this short primer on freezing food.

Salting peas

Salting vegetables is an old-fashioned method that you may want to try. Use only young, very fresh peas. Prepare shelled peas or pea pods and then weigh peas before blanching to determine amount of salt to use. For every pound of prepared peas, measure 3.2 ounces (1⁄3 cup) pickling salt. Blanch and drain peas; then pat dry. In a large bowl, toss peas and pickling salt until evenly mixed. Pack 1 pound peas with salt into a sterilized 1-quart glass jar (or 5 pounds into a gallon crock), leaving 1 to 2 inches headspace. Press peas without crushing to extract liquid to cover vegetables. Weight the peas to keep them submerged, and cover the container. Set aside in a cool, dark place. In 24 hours, if the liquid does not cover the food completely, prepare a 20 percent brine using 7.7 ounces (3⁄4 cup) pickling salt per quart of water. Add enough brine to cover the peas generously. Cover and weight again to keep submerged. Cure (pickle) the vegetables 2 to 4 weeks, and then store in a cold cellar or refrigerator up to 6 months. If white scum appears on the surface, remove it. If peas become moldy, soft, or develop a disagreeable odor, they have spoiled and must be discarded.

Drying shelled peas (or beans)

If you grow beans or peas, simply dry them on the vine at the end of the season. They may need additional oven or dehydrator drying after harvest. To dry indoors, preheat oven or food dehydrator to 130°F to 140°F. Prepare, blanch, and drain shelled peas or beans; pat dry before placing on drying trays. Dry until vegetables rattle. Cool until no longer warm and then store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place up to 2 months. Freeze for longer storage.

Drying also works well for pea pods, if you want to enjoy then as a dried vegetable snack, or to add to soups and stews.

Rehydrate dried vegetables by covering with boiling water and soaking 20 to 30 minutes, or until they have plumped up to their original size. Use in favorite recipes calling for fresh or frozen. Or, grind dry peas into a powder (using a coffee grinder reserved for spices and vegetables). Add boiling water to make pea soup, enhance with cream or butter, if desired.

Canning shelled green peas

Vegetables are a low acid food and require pressure canning. Estimate 3½ pounds shelled green peas per quart. If desired, add 1 tablespoon salt to each quart jar before filling with peas.

  • For hot pack, add prepared shelled green peas to boiling water, cook 2 minutes, and keep hot while filling jars loosely with hot peas.
  • For raw pack, fill hot jars with prepared raw shelled green peas to just below the threaded neck. Add boiling water to cover.

After filling jars, adjust headspace with hot cooking liquid or boiling water to 1-inch. Process peas in a dial gauge pressure canner at 11 pounds or weighted gauge at 10 pounds; pints or quarts for 40 minutes (at 0 to 1,000 feet).

How to can dried peas (or beans)

Dried peas or beans are a low acid food that require require pressure canning. Select mature, dry peas. Pick over and discard discolored peas or debris. Estimate 3/4 pound dried peas per quart. Before canning, soak dried peas using one of the following methods. (Cold soaking retains more nutrients.)

  • To cold-soak dried peas, place dried peas in a large pot and cover with water. Soak 6 to 8 hours in a cool place. Drain.
  • To quick-soak dried peas, place dried peas in a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and soak 1 hour. Drain.

After soaking by either method, cover peas with fresh tap water, bring to a boil over high heat, and boil 30 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and keep hot while filling jars. If desired, add 1 tablespoon salt to each quart jar before filling jars loosely with peas.

After filling jars, adjust headspace with hot cooking liquid to 1-inch. Process dried peas or beans in a dial gauge pressure canner at 11 pounds or weighted gauge at 10 pounds; pints for 75 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes (at 0 to 1,000 feet).

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Best ways to preserve green peas and recipes to enjoy them all year

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