Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Shelling Peas

Here's a great leisure activity. Don't we all yearn for a lazy afternoon with nothing more important to do than shell peas? Even daughter got into the act, learning how to use the point of a paring knife to neatly split the pod in two. You can do the same thing with your fingernails--if you have long fingernails. I prefer the knife.

The best peas are still sweet, meaning before the pod begins to turn from deep green to a dirty yellow. As the pod changes color, it becomes papery and more easily opened to reveal the peas. But by that time the peas have begun to toughen and turn their sugar into starch, preparing to become next season's seeds.

This is an English variety of shelling pea--Wando. The pods are inedible. Pick them when they're plump and green.

At this point the peas are plump and flavorful, practically bursting from their pods. It's a gratifying feeling, opening pods of peas like this knowing they were grown right in front of our house in the District of Columbia, about a mile from the White House.

Ours is not a perfect climate for English peas. Spring gets hot and humid early around here, and that's when fungi start attacking the pea plants.

Last night we had our peas again with pasta and cream sauce. That's the last of that, says the wife. Too much fat in the cream to eat on a regular basis. Our only disappointment is that we don't have more peas. I could easily live with a garden full of peas. We could pick them all day and freeze them for later.

We'll just have to plant a bigger crop in the fall.


eatclosetohome said...

ooh, peas are my favorite! I love the pods that are so perfectly ripe and plump that you can gently squeeze the blossom end and it "pops" open with a sound that just shouts "FRESH!"

Ramona said...

I've been enjoying the peas over the last couple of weeks. I too made peas with pasta in a sauce that did have cream...just a touch! Also made pea soup with fage and recently just sauteed them up and allowed them to cool a bit and added them to a salad.
In VA, the Kingstowne market has a vendor who sells them shelled. Love that.

Ed Bruske said...

Emily, all this time I've never tried squeezing the pod. I'll give it a shot and see if it screams, FRESH!

Ramona, that will be my next goal: pea soup. I wonder who does the shelling on the local farm.

Bronwyn said...

Squeezing the pea pod is a technique that is taught you by your Mum or Gran or whatever - I reckon you could use pea-podding method to tell whether a person was raised by food growers, or came to food growing as an adult.

I've never met a person who didn't know how to pod peas; must be because everyone had vege gardens here in New Zealand when I was a child.

This is the second time in the last couple of months that I've seen a food blogger using an implement to open the pods. Must be big-city people, yes?