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Freezing peas is the easiest and quickest way of preserving them fresh from your garden or the farmers market. If you only grow peas in your garden to eat fresh, then you're missing out. Properly done, they are nearly as good frozen as the fresh ones straight off the vine. If you want to learn how it's done - read on...
After you have shelled your peas, wash them in clean cool water to remove any dirt and other "stuff" that you might not want to eat.
At the same time, bring a large sauce pot about half full of water to a rolling boil.
Peas are high in sugar content, so they have to be blanched before freezing to stop enzyme activity from turning sugars into starch and ruining their fresh sweet flavor.
When the pot of water
comes to a rolling boil, pour peas in. Let them blanch for 2-3 minutes.
After 2-3 minutes have passed, remove the peas and put them in cold water to immediately stop the cooking process, and cool them enough for handling.
Measure out the amount of peas that will be right for one meal for your family. For my family of 3, a quart is about the right amount.
Pour the blanched and cooled peas into a freezer bag or box and seal them up. Always label bags and boxes with what's in them and when they were frozen, to be sure that you use the oldest first.
Place packaged peas in your freezer, and they should be frozen by the next day. If you use freezer bags, lay them out flat and spread them out in the freezer so they will freeze as quickly as possible. You can then stack them up the next day to save space.
Preserving peas is a quick and easy way to extend the use of your harvest. Canning peas takes longer, but they are already cooked when you are ready to eat them. Frozen peas still have to be simmered for 20 minutes before serving, but the flavor is closer to fresh. Either way you choose to preserve your home grown peas, it's just another way to assure your family's independence from the grocery store, and increase your self sufficiency.
To Freeze or Can???
There's a debate among pea enthusiasts about whether canning peas or freezing them is the better method of preserving for long term storage.
In terms of preparation up front, freezing is the quicker method, but frozen peas still have to be cooked the same as if they were fresh.
Canning on the other hand takes more time and effort up front, but when you're ready to eat canned peas, you just open the jar dump 'em in a pan and warm 'em up.
There is some difference in flavor - frozen peas retain the better fresh flavor, but even canned ones still taste pretty good in the dead of a long cold winter.
Which way is best for you? Well, I recommend trying them prepared both ways, and decide for yourself!!