Fresh peas store well in the freezer, and freezing helps them retain their natural color, flavor and nutritional value better for long periods. For the best results, freeze your peas just after harvesting to preserve their freshness. Frozen peas do not require cooking before serving. Simply thaw and add directly to soups, stews and casseroles, or heat for a few minutes before serving. English or green peas and edible pea pods are frozen in the same way, which requires very little effort and allows you to enjoy fresh peas throughout the year.
Things You'll Need
Wire basket or cheesecloth bag
Pint-size zip-closure freezer bags
Remove peas from their pods, a process known as shelling, if you're freezing green or English peas. If you're freezing edible pea pods such as sugar snap peas, wash the pods, trim the ends and remove any strings.
Wash the peas thoroughly by placing them in a large bowl or pan of cold water. Stir them with your hands or a large spoon to remove dirt. Change the water and repeat several times until the water is clear and no more dirt settles to the bottom.
Drain the peas from the water. Pick out any peas or pea pods that have dark spots on them or otherwise appear damaged, and discard them.
Bring a gallon of water to a rapid boil in a large stockpot. While the water is boiling, fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes. Set it aside.
Place 2 cups of peas or pea pods in a wire basket or cheesecloth bag. Lower it into the boiling water, and place the lid on the pan. Begin timing immediately, leaving shelled peas in the water for two minutes, or pea pods in the water for five minutes.
Remove the peas from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into the ice water bath to stop the cooking. This process, known as blanching, is necessary to stop the enzymatic actions that cause harvested vegetables to decay.
Label pint-size zip-closure freezer bags with the contents and date, and pack the peas tightly into the prepared bags. Squeeze out as much air as possible, or pour ice water over the bags to remove excess air.
Seal the bags of peas and place them in your freezer. Store for up to one year before discarding. After a year, the quality, texture and nutrient content of the peas will begin to degrade quickly.
Watch the stockpot while boiling the peas to make sure it doesn't boil over.
If you have more than 2 cups of peas to freeze, repeat the steps using the same pot of boiling water until all peas have been blanched. Use a new ice water bath each time, however, as the hot peas will heat the water too much to process more than one batch.
To thaw frozen peas, float the bags in a bowl of warm water for about an hour.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension Service warns that peas that are not blanched before freezing will develop a bad flavor while frozen and a bad odor when cooked.