Monday, June 4, 2012

Snow Peas vs. Garden Peas

I love garden peas (also known as English peas).  They are one of my favorite vegetables.  Unfortunately, though, growing them and putting them up isn't my cup of tea.  For several years in a row, as we were shelling copious amounts of garden peas, willing the bowl to fill faster for all our efforts, we declared we wouldn't grow peas the next year.  The time-required-to-shell to the-amount-you-end-up-with-to-freeze ratio wasn't worth it for us.  But, we'd cave, unable to imagine a spring without peas.

Last year, we were adamant.  And we didn't cave.  Instead, we grew snow peas.  I used to get snow peas and sugar snap peas confused, but the difference is finally set in my mind.  You eat the pod of both types of peas, but snow peas are picked while still flat, before the peas grow very large.   Sugar snap peas are picked when the peas have plumped out the pods.  Both can be used in stir-frys, cooked up on their own or used in other dishes.  The process of freezing them is the same.  Not to confuse anyone further, but the variety of snow peas we planted is called Oregon Sugar Pod II.  Jamey chose this variety because they resist the the bad stuff (virus, wilt and mildew) and freeze great.

They've been great, creeping up their supports nicely.  The pods are beautiful.  While we thought we'd cut down on the prepping time prior to blanching, we were wrong.  It takes just as long to string snow peas as it does to shell garden peas (we know some people skip the stringing, but we prefer them de-stringed).  What keeps us going, though, is that there is much more pea to freeze- the same amount you start with actually (minus the strings and ends, of course).  So, there's less waste and more food for us.  Bingo!

Freezing Snow Peas

Snap off the ends of the peas, pulling toward the opposite end to remove the strings on each side of the pod as well.  Very young pods may have little to no strings.  Larger pods need heavier de-stringing.  Rinse de-stemmed and stringed pods in water to remove any grime (which there is little if they are allowed to climb).  Place in boiling water for 2 minutes, then transfer to a large pan with ice water to stop further cooking.  Once cooled, place in a colander to allow to drain for 5 minutes or so, then transfer to plastic freezer bags- pint-sized for stir-frys, quart-sized for creamed peas.

Will we ever grow garden peas again?  Maybe.  Ask us next spring after we've eaten them all winter.  After only a week of picking, we have 20 pints in the freezer.  So far, we're very impressed and are thinking we can back off on the green beans this year.


One of my favorite ways to eat strawberries- crushed over french toast, with or without maple syrup.

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  1. Thanks for explaining the different peas. That is something I have been wondering about. I look forward to hearing how you enjoy them this winter.

  2. I'm still planting and shelling (and shelling and shelling and shelling) shell peas because we like them so much. But then there are just to two of us for which to put by an adequate amount.

    You've got me to thinking though. I've never liked snow peas for freezing because they come out so limp. Perhaps I should try sugar snap peas. By golly, I think I will!

  3. This has nothing to do with peas, but THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!! I finally got around to ordering the hair brush you recommended awhile back and it has made our morning routine much easier. No more fighting about snarls! And now my friends are all ordering... :-) I owe you big time for that one.

  4. This year, being our first year (in many years) to have a garden, we planted about half and half garden peas and sugar snap. I love your informative posts. Thank you

  5. Just a beautiful garden: plants look super healthy.

  6. well, that makes sense. I'm going to tell my husband to stick to snow peas next year. And thanks for clarifying sugar snaps and snow peas!! I never knew.


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