Nothing better than garden-fresh peas

IMG_2958Peas are a hot commodity at our house. Let me explain. That is probably my fault. My husband always says it’s lucky if any of the peas I am picking even make it into the house. I can’t help it. Fresh out of the  pod are my favorite way to eat peas.
In fact, I was never a big pea eater until I started growing them myself. Frozen was OK, canned I wouldn’t touch, but once I tasted my first fresh pea, I was hooked.

I grow several rows of peas each year. Plant more than you think you will need because with our hot Kansas summers, the plants don’t last long once it warms up. There’s really only a couple of good harvests before the vines give up and turn brown, which mine have already done for the year.

Peas also are climbers, so give them something to climb on. To save space, I tried something new this year. I planted my peas along side the rows where my tomatoes would later be planted. It probably looked strange to anyone observing my garden, but I went ahead and put up my tomato cages as well. The tomatoes would come a couple of months later.

The idea worked though. The tomato cages provided something for the peas to climb, without having to come up with a separate fence or support like I have in the past. By the time the tomato plants were getting bigger the peas were ready to be pulled up. This also doesn’t leave a blank spot in my garden after pulling the peas like previous years. I think I will be doing this method again in the future.

Now that you have those peas picked, it’s time to shell them. Give yourself more time than you think to do this. I had half an hour one night, so I thought, I can get through this bag. Well, an hour and a half later I finished, but I had a nice bowl of fresh green peas to show for the effort.

As I said my favorite way to eat them is fresh. Or you can grab a handful or throw some on a salad. But most likely you will have more than you can eat right away.

Freezing is a good way to preserve them. To do this, blanch the peas in hot water for 1 1/2 minutes then dip them in ice water. Pat them dry, put them in bags, seal them and toss them in the freezer. They will be great to pull out later to add in a soup or stew.

Until next time, happy garden-fresh eating!

Julie Clements is a Butler County Master Gardener.
Share your ideas for garden-fresh recipes or ways to preserve at julieclements75@gmail. com and some will be featured in upcoming columns.

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