Friday, June 19, 2015

Pink-Eyed Peas (Field Peas) with Snaps - From Garden to Table

The weather is getting HOT, and that means the pink-eyed peas are starting to come in. There's just nothing like the taste of fresh peas straight out of the garden! Of course, if frozen is all you can get, they will work too. One good thing about frozen peas is that most of the prep work is already done, but they do take a little bit longer to cook. Just keep that in mind, and adjust your cooking time as needed.

In this post I will try to walk you through the process from harvesting the peas, all the way to getting them on the table. If you are using frozen peas, you can skip right to the recipe at the bottom, if you like.

The field peas that are pictured are called Pink-Eyed Purple Hulls. I prefer this kind for several reasons... Not only do they taste great (so much better than black-eyed peas), but they do well in our area, and are easy to identify when they are ready to pick. In addition to filling out, the hull will get purple patches and a stripe, and then will change to a solid purple. The goal is to pick them as close to these markings as possible, if the hull has been solid purple for too long, it will be too dry to eat (although it can be used for seed). This color change can happen in just a few days (less time, if it is really dry), which is why we try to pick our peas daily right now. Also the more you pick them, the more the plant will produce. Make sure to also pick a few slender green pods to use for snaps, but keep them separate from the rest. 

Once you have them picked, spread them out in a cool shady location. (I always lay a sheet out on the spare room floor and spread them out there.) You do this for two reasons. The first is that peas will go through a heat after they are picked. If they were all piled on top of each other, the crop could spoil. Second, spreading them out allows them to dry out a little bit, which makes them easier to shell. Leave them there overnight, and shell them the following day. (No more than 18 hours - You don't want them to get too dry.)  

To shell them you can either use a mechanical sheller (if you have access to one), or you can do it by hand. Keep in mind, if you use a mechanical sheller, it will not give you any snaps (which is why I had you to keep them separate from the rest). You'll still need to snap those by hand.  Our local farm center has a sheller, and only charges a couple of dollars for each 5 gallon bucket full of peas - well worth it if you have a lot of peas! But if you only have a small mess of peas, they are not hard to do by hand, and can be fun to shell as a family. 
This is one of my favorite pictures / memories with my daughter.
She had just turned 3 years old and was already helping us shell peas! 
Look at that dirty little face. They grow up too fast! 

After they're shelled, you'll need to sort them. Carefully pour a few at a time into your hand and look over them for any bad spots. This can be from bugs, running through a sheller, or whatever. Discard any undesirable peas, and put the rest into a colander (strainer). 

Now you'll need to decide if you're cooking them to eat now (skip to next step), or freezing them for later. (You could also can them in a pressure canner, but we always just freeze the excess. It's your choice. Refer to your canning guide for those instructions, if that is the route you decide to take.) If you're freezing them, thoroughly rinse the peas and snaps. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Pour in the peas and snaps, and blanch them until they turn bright green, about 5 minutes. Pour them into a strainer and plunge them into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. After a few minutes, lift the strainer and let it drain for a while, in order to remove as much moisture as possible. Pack the prepared peas and snaps into labeled and dated freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible from each bag before sealing and placing it in the freezer.

If you're wanting to eat them without freezing them first, and are not quite ready to start cooking them immediately - Do not rinse or blanch the peas. Place the sorted peas in an airtight container, in the refrigerator until you're ready to cook them - but not longer than a few days. Rinse them just prior to cooking.

This is how we like to prepare them...

 Printable Recipe 
  • 2 lbs Field Peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 3 - 4 pieces of Bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 Jalapeno, diced (optional)
  • Water
  • 2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Tony's (see picture)


In a large pot over medium heat, brown the bacon pieces first. When they're almost crisp, add in the 
diced onion and jalapeno (if using), and cook until the onion starts to carmalize. Do not drain the bacon drippings. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add in the peas, and cover them with water. Season with the chicken bouillon cubes, salt, pepper, and Tony's. Bring it to a rapid boil, and keep it boiling (adding water as necessary) until the field peas are tender, usually about 45 minutes to an hour. Be sure to stir it every now and again, to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. 

Taste the peas to see if they're done. They will have a distinctive 'raw' flavor until they are ready. You don't want that. Add additional seasoning, as needed.

Serves 6


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1 comment:

  1. Will definitely be trying this soon! Thank you so much for linking up at Tasty Tuesday! This post has been pinned on the Tasty Tuesday Pinterest board! I love having you and can't wait to see you next week!


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