Having crispy, crunchy fresh snap peas (Avalanche by Gurney) is a treat in early spring, but I planted way later than I should have, and they are still bearing lots of pods!
So what do you do when you have too much of a good thing? Well, you can share them with your neighbors, or you can ‘put them up’ as my mother-in-love would have said! Freeze them for adding to winter pot pies and stews. They also make a beautiful addition to a stir-fry along with red peppers, mushrooms, onions, water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots over rice.
One tip: pick them when they are 3-4 inches ~ they are much more tender and succulent!
You can always be on the lookout for local produce that you can pick up very reasonably to freeze: peaches, apples, pears, blueberries, raspberries, corn, green beans, tomatoes, tomatilloes ~ the list is endless.
Unless you are freezing onions or green peppers, blanching is a must before freezing vegetables unless you use them within 3 months. Quality goes down after that because the enzymes continue to break down the food. Freezing can be part of a frugal and simple lifestyle. Putting up our own food may not be something we have to do, but we probably should know how to do it.
Depending on what it is that you are freezing, you will need to consult a Ball Blue Book or go online to find out the time required to blanch your vegetable. Sugar snap or snow peas in the pod need only 2 minutes.
Start by heating up a big pan of water to a low simmer. While that is heating, lightly wash your harvest with a bit of Dr. Woods Castile soap and pull any strings that need to be removed.
Blanching is the scalding of vegetables in boiling water. Blanching slows or stops the action of enzymes. Up until harvest time, enzymes cause vegetables to grow and mature. If vegetables are not blanched, or blanching is not long enough, the enzymes continue to be active during frozen storage causing off-colors, off-flavors and toughening.
If you spend the time growing the vegetables, pulling weeds, picking and preparing for the freezer, the blanching time may be regarded as a pain – but it’s necessary if you want fresh garden flavor later.
Remove immediately at the prescribed amount of time. Cool by running cold water over them. It will pull the heat out of the peas. Pour the warm water off until it is cold. They should have a bright shiny color.
Cool vegetables for the same amount of time as they are blanched. Drain and place in freezer bags when thoroughly cool. Always use up your oldest stock of frozen goods first to prevent spoiling. Use in 8-9 months.
I’m hungry right now for a creamy chicken pot pie with carrots, potatoes, onions, and peas.
Thanks for reading!