Edible pea pods are a tasty addition to stir fry, soups, casseroles, salads or on their own, such as in the side dish mange tout. However, they can be prohibitively expensive, particularly in the winter. It is much more economical to grow or pick your own and freeze them for later use. As an added bonus, they tend to taste much better than what you can generally find in the supermarket. To freeze pea pods at home, follow the directions outlined in the guide below.
Things You'll Need
Large mixing bowl
Plastic drinking straw
Pick your pods. Start early in the day to ensure the peas are as fresh as possible. Choose pods that are crisp, tender and bright green. Make sure the pods in which the peas are are only just visible and have not begun to develop. If you've postponed the harvest, you should start at the top of the plant as those pods located on the bottom mature first and may already be filling with peas. Once peas begin to develop, the pods become tough and starchy. Discard any pods you come across that have brown or rusty discolorations or display other signs of diseases and insect infestation.
Clean the pods. Rinse the pea pods in cold water several times. Inspect the pods to be sure any dirt, mud, debris, pesticides or insecticides have been completely removed. Next, snap off the stems and remove the blossom ends, but leave the pea pods whole. Then, pull the strings off. If you do not find any strings, do not worry. There are a number of stringless varieties being cultivated these days.
Fill a stock pot or soup kettle with water. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Once the water is boiling, fill a large mixing bowl with ice and cover the ice with water. Place the pea pods into the boiling water and cover the pot. Wait for approximately 90 seconds for small pods and 2 minutes for large ones. This quick boiling is known as blanching and is required to destroy any potentially harmful bacteria or plant enzymes that may present.
Remove the pods from the boiling water and immediately place them into the bowl of ice water. Rapid cooling of blanched vegetables will keep them crispy and prevent unintentional overcooking. Keep the peas in the ice water for at least 2 minutes or until they are completely cool to the touch. Add more ice if necessary. Remove the pods once they are cool and drain them thoroughly, removing as much water as possible.
Place the cooled pods into freezer-safe food storage bags, leaving ½ inch of room at the top of the bag. Insert a small straw into the top of the bag, closing the bag around it. Draw any excess air out of the storage bag by placing your mouth around the straw and inhaling sharply. Apply pressure to the straw at the insertion point and finish closing the bag as you slowly remove the straw. By removing the excess air, you reduce the chance of freezer burn and improve the storage life of your produce.
Place the bags into the freezer. Frozen pea pods can be safely stored for 9 to 12 months, depending on how cold your freezer is.
Don't forget to write the date of preparation on the outside of the bag in permanent marker.