For the Love of Legumes/How to Prepare Peas for the Freezer

When I was growing up, there was never really the question of whether our supper would include legumes. The only question was as to which legume we'd have that night. Peas, or butter beans? Well, it wasn't really quite that simple. Once we had decided between the two bean families, we then had to decide on the variety. For peas, there were the choices of crowders, English, black-eyed or purple hull. Then, the next choice was - did we want some we'd prepared for the freezer, or a jar Momma had canned. The freezing verses the canning of the same vegetable can truly result in almost a separate variety of the same bean. There is a difference! Both are delicious!

Butter beans were a bit simpler choice. We usually only preserved two varieties, and both in the freezer. Everyone else in my family preferred white lima beans, but I preferred the speckled variety. We usually had two or three rows of the white limas in our garden, but my sweet momma always planted a row of speckled butter beans - just for me! What a sweet memory!

Since we ate peas or butter beans - and occasionally peas and butter beans - daily, we usually "put up" 150 bags of each in our freezer each summer. Then Momma canned some, too.

When Larry and I were dating, he'd come and go to church with us on some Sunday mornings. Momma always cooked a big Sunday lunch, which usually included several bowls of vegetables from our stash in the freezer - and fried chicken. We didn't eat a lot of meat during the week, when I was growing up. We mainly ate the veggies we'd persevered through-out the summer. Now days, we're encouraged to have a couple of meatless meals a week to maintain good health. I guess we were "accidental week-day vegetarians" back then! Anyway, we'd get so tickled at Larry's going on-and-on about how great the peas, butter beans, okra, etc., were. We were so used to these daily vegetables, we took them for granted. He was a college student, eating college-student-fast-food-fare most of the time. His family usually took us out to eat when we dined with them, which was a big treat for me! It was funny how we each preferred what the other had!

Here are the peas I shelled and prepared for the freezer this past Saturday. When compared to what my family used to preserve, them seem kind of puny, but I'm proud of them anyway!!

Purple Hull Peas to be shelled:

Results of shelling Purple Hull Peas:

Rewards of shelling Purple Hull Peas:

How to prepare purple hull peas for the freezer:

Shell peas.

Clean kitchen sink well.

Put a stock pot of water onto the stove. Heat water while you "look" the peas.

Put peas into sink with clean water. Remove blemished peas and any other debris.

Scoop peas into a colander and rise well. Continue to look for blemished peas.

Place peas in the stock pot when the water begins to boil.

When water returns to a boil after having had the peas added, boil peas for about 2 - 3 minutes. This process is called "blanching."

While peas are coming to a boil, re-clean you sink, put a large bowl of ice next to your sink, and have your colander in the sink ready to drain blanched peas.

When peas have boiled 2 - 3 minutes, pour them into the colander and drain quickly.

Rinse sink. Add stopper. Dump in drained, blanched peas. Add ice and cover peas with water. This cools the peas quickly and stops the cooking process.

When peas are completely cooled in the ice bath, scoop them into the colander; drain and rinse.

Spread a large absorbent towel on your counter. Top this with several layers of paper towels.

Pour peas onto paper towels. Allow to air dry a while.

Using a measuring cup, scoop desired amount of peas into plastic zippered bags. Label and place bags into freezer.

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