Tips and Hints for Peas

As fresh peas and dried peas handle differently, I’m going to divide the tips up accordingly.

Dried Peas

  • One pound of dried peas equals 2 1/4 cups. When cooked, this 2 1/4 cups of dried peas equates to 5 cups after cooked.
  • Dried peas come from several varieties of field peas, and are a different variety from fresh peas or those found in the frozen food section.
  • Dried peas can be stored in an airtight container for up to one year at room temperature. They can be stored indefinitely if frozen.
  • Discard any discolored or shriveled peas, as they indicate immature growth.
  • Split peas do not require soaking prior to use.
  • Whole dried peas do require soaking and may be done overnight with the peas placed in a large bowl and at least three inches of cold water.
  • To Quick soak the peas, put the peas in a large pan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 2 hours. Drain the water and use as needed.
  • Refrain from using salted water for cooking the peas, as it toughens their skin. Salt the peas after they are done cooking.
  • Remove the peas from the hot water once the cooking is complete.

Fresh Peas

  • Peas season runs from early spring to the first few weeks of summer.
  • Choose medium sized pea pods. Larger peas will be too starchy, while the smaller peas may be underdeveloped.
  • Choose fresh peas that are firm and plump. The colors should be bright, consistent and unblemished.
  • The pea that is more recently picked will have higher sugar content (and thus will taste sweeter). Once picked, peas will convert this sugar to starch, which will affect its flavor.
  • One pound of peas in their pod equates to roughly one cup of peas shelled.
  • Fresh peas can be refrigerated, unwashed, for up to two days
  • Shell peas immediately prior to use, to prevent sugar loss.
  • For a quick vegetable broth, use the pea pods and cook them in 4 cups of water (or previously made chicken or veggie stock) for one hour.
  • Prevent overcooking your peas. When done, they should still be crisp on the outside, but tender on the insider. They should have lost little to none of their color.
  • Acidic foods will leach the color from peas.
  • Frozen peas do not need to be cooked prior to use in other dishes. It is acceptable to add the frozen peas directly to the dish 2 to 3 minutes before the cooking time of the dish has completed cooking.
  • Frozen peas are one of the few vegetables whose taste is not excessively diminished by the freezing process, and are a decent substitute for when fresh peas are unavailable.
  • One 10 ounce package of frozen peas equates to 1 1/1 lbs od unshelled peas.

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