Preserving the Harvest: Peas

One of the biggest factors that allows us to forgo takeaway so often during the very busy school year is the amount of produce we are able to put up during the late summer months.  While having a baby has definitely altered the shape of our days (and the amount of spare time I have), we are still going strong, preserving vegetables for the upcoming winter months.  I’ve posted previously about preserving green beans and zucchini and summer squash, but one of Jason’s favorite vegetables is peas.

Materials:

Quart Freezer Bags

Fresh-picked peas (you want these shucked immediately after picking or the pods get gummy and hard to manage)

Large pot for blanching (with large metal sieve, if possible)

Colander

Bowl or clean sink full of ice water

Cookie Sheets

Clean, absorbent dish towels

Before starting, make sure you have enough space for two cookie sheets in your freezer, as you need to flash freeze peas BEFORE placing them into bags.

  1. Pick your peas on a day when you have enough time to process them start to finish.  Pick the pods, shuck the peas, and get started preserving.  If you must, I’ve found that shucked peas are okay in the fridge, covered, for 24 hours before processing.

    Fresh Peas from the Garden!

    Fresh Peas from the Garden!

  2. Bring your water to a rolling boil.  Meanwhile, prepare your blanching sieve and pans (cover with a fresh dishtowel).

    Prepared materials.

    Prepared materials.

  3. Blanch peas (this is where I use the metal sieve) for 2 – 3 minutes, until the color changes to a rich green.
    Fresh Peas

    Unblanched Peas

    Blanched Peas

    Blanched Peas

  4. Place blanched peas in an ice water bath to cool.  I usually just lower them into ice water in a pot while still in the sieve, so I don’t have to strain ice out of them before drying.  Leave in ice water until peas are cool (3 – 5 minutes).
  5. Transfer peas from the water bath to dry dishtowels, then roll peas on dishtowels into logs to hurry along this process.

    Peas, rolled into a dishtowel to remove water.

    Peas, rolled into a dishtowel to remove water.

  6. When dry, spread the peas on a clean, dry dishtowel on a cookie sheet.Toweled Peas
  7. Place in freezer until frozen solid (6 – 12 hours).

    Frozen Peas

  8. Loosen peas and transfer into freezer bags.

    Loosened peas.

    Loosened peas.

  9. Remove air from bag and place in freezer.

    Peas, ready for the freezer!

    Peas, ready for the freezer!

These peas can be used in cooking all winter long, steamed or placed in the microwave and served plain.

Enjoy!  I know we will!

We Eat/She Eats and Monday Motivation

Somehow, another week has blown by!  I look back over last week, and how much we accomplished even though Jason had to spend the entire weekend working out at his dad’s house in preparation for its inspection, and I am so thankful we’re still balancing things.  Cords have been picked up and put away, more baby proofing has been accomplished, and I finally got to those pesky floors!  And, by some grace of luck, I managed to week and mulch our flower beds and stain the decks before we had company last Friday night.  But to get down to the purpose of this post… last week’s meal planning went great, and A ate what we ate (or what I had planned for her) every night of the week!

This week, we’re getting ready for a visit from my mom and brother (Amelia’s Uncle Sparky).  They’ll be arriving Friday night and staying through the weekend, and since Uncle Sparky lives in LA, this will be his first time meeting little Miss Amelia.  I can’t wait!

In terms of how things are going… I fully completed Week 3 of T25, and with the addition of more careful eating practices, I am down 1.5 pounds!  I’ve noticed some hip pain this weekend, but I think it’s just my body continuing to adjust.  We’ll keep our fingers crossed!  Eating healthily is so much easier with all of our own fresh veggies finally coming in!

Fresh Peas from the Garden!

Fresh Peas from the Garden!

This week’s We Eat/She Eats focuses a lot on what we can get out of our own garden at this time of year: onions, garlic scapes, zucchini, and cucumbers.  The tomatoes and corn are coming, albeit very slowly!  Amelia is also loving watermelon or watery-melon as I call it when I feed her, so we’re going through about one a week, and it makes such a great, healthy snack for Mama, too!

Monday:  Jason Working at His Dad’s House – Homemade Takeout
We Eat: Grilled Chicken and Cheddar Panini Sandwiches on Rye Bread, Crispy Fries, Cucumber Spears
She Eats: Grilled Chicken Bits, Cheese,  Avocado, Cabot Greek Yogurt with Fruit

Tuesday:
We Eat: Eating Well’s Easy Salmon Cakes over Salad with Cucumber Spears and Creamy Dill Sauce and Watermelon Cubes
She Eats: Cucumber Bits, Watermelon, Cabot Cottage Cheese, Leftover Chicken

Wednesday:
We Eat: BBQ Chicken with Homemade Sauce, Sautéed Zucchini with Melted Parmesan Cheese, Orzo with Herbs,
She Eats: Chicken Bits, Chopped Zucchini (sauteed but before I add the cheese) with Fresh Parmesan (unmelted), Bits of Orzo, Fruit (Mama needs to buy more watermelon!)

Thursday:
We Eat: Hamburgers on the Grill on Sandwich Flats, Sweet Potato Fries, Cucumber Spears
She Eats: Sautéed Ground Beef, Cucumber Bits, Watermelon, Cabot Cottage Cheese

Friday: Mom & Uncle Sparky Arrive!
We Eat: The Pioneer Woman’s Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs (without eggs), Salad, Bread, Green Beans
She Eats: Meatballs (chopped up) without Sauce, Pasta Bits, Green Bean Bits, Bread

And in case you were wondering what meals look like at our house… here’s Taco Salad from last week:DSC_0098

What are you and your little ones enjoying the most this summer?

Today’s Goals

Because Jason had Friday off, we’re miles ahead of where we would normally be in the garden.  Both the old and new veggie gardens are tilled and ready for crops.  He even took the time to till out a bed for the ranunculus I purchased a few weeks ago in a fit of winter blues.

Today is the day.  I write this while watching the weak spring sunshine pour through our windows in a hazy blue sky.  They’re not predicting rain; they’re not predicting terrible cold.  We can get those earliest and least tender of spring veggies into the garden!

So what are our plans for today?

I NEED to plant ranunculus.  We have several frosty nights that will still spur these puppies into action, so they need to go in.  Today.

Once our ranunculus is safely in the ground, I’ll move onto the veggie patch.

My goal is to do the following:

New Garden:
1. Measure out space for cabbage (which will be started indoors today and transferred later).
2. Erect the bean fence and build raised rows with an old-fashioned hoe and rake (no bridal arm workout for this girl, today).
3. Build the pea fence (just a low row of snap together garden sashing).
4. Note where the pumpkins will grow and avoid that space for now!
5. Plant peas!

Old Garden
1. Measure out carrot and onion rows.  Marvel at how much space that leaves for my army of tomato plants!  Remember that we have many other things to put in the garden.  Panic a little.  Return to carrots and onions.
2. Supply Jason with the requisite carrot planter and bags of seed.  He is so much better with this uber-tedious task than I am!  My fiance, the man who can plant carrots that need not be thinned!
3. Plant onion sets.  I will note that while I was at the feed store a few weeks ago, not only did I get the yellow and red onions we’ve grown for the last few years, I also picked up a parcel of Walla Walla onions.  Because they looked lonely, and I have a serious vegetable problem.

What are you hoping to accomplish in your gardens today?