Growing AK: Putting peas up for winter
Pick, shuck, blanch and freeze
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - When your garden is producing, you want to make sure you save some of that bounty for the winter. Peas produce abundantly in Alaska and we asked Master Gardener Tami Schlies the best way to preserve peas.
“For most vegetables to preserve them by freezing you do need to blanch them, and the reason for that, my understanding is, that it deactivates the ripening enzymes,” says Schlies. “Because you don’t want them to continuing ripening which, believe it or not they will continue to do, even in the freezer.”
The process starts with picking peas at the appropriate stage of ripeness. What that stage is, depends on you.
The ripeness of peas...it’s personal preference, I would say, because I like them less ripe than my sister likes them.” Schlies adds, “She doesn’t mind them a tiny bit starchy, as they get bigger they get starchier. And I like them small and very, very sweet.”
The best way to tell the ripeness of peas is to give the pod a gentle squeeze on the vine.
Once you’ve picked the peas, it’s time to shuck and blanch them. Schlies plants “shelling peas”.
“They’re designed to open them up, take the peas out, and make what you think of when you think peas,” says Schlies. “Snap peas are the ones with the fleshier pod, and those are the ones that you eat whole...then there are snow peas, which are the flat ones...and you harvest them before the peas ripen at all.”
Blanching the peas involves dropping them into boiling water for two minutes. After the two minutes has passed, pull the peas out and dump them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
While Schlies has a large vacuum sealer, the day we visited she used a straw and a freezer bag to take the air out before freezing them. Schlies says to mark the bag with the year on the bag and that you want to eat veggies within a year.
And while the peas will be good, it still isn’t the same as eating straight from the garden.
“They will never be fresh again, fresh is fresh which is why summer’s so wonderful,” says Schlies.
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