Drying Spent Peas the Old-Fashioned Way
June has been the month of peas for us here at the farm! They are a new crop to us as I did not grow them at all last year. They've been kind of a bumper crop for me with their prolific harvests! I go out 2-3 times a week to pick and come back with a basket full of fresh delicious pods. But that leaves me with a lot of time to store them, and fresh peas are really only good in the fridge for about 5 days, though I would extend this by another couple if you are growing them yourself or picking fresh off the vine. If those peas are not going to our CSA or market customers, then I have giant bags of peas in the fridge not being eaten. Our family can only consume so many before we burst! I wanted to look into a few methods of preserving our harvests this year and one of those ways was drying. While I could can our peas or blanch and freeze them, I felt that drying might help by saving me some time. Drying peas is a great way to preserve their essence for later use either as a snack or to be used in soups and stews.
I wanted to get Tad involved, too! Drying them on a string seemed like a really fun project for us both to do. Hang drying fruits and vegetables is an age-old practice done on the homestead. I've always loved the look of hang dried herbs or strings of beans and apples from the rafters in historical prairies homes.
Drying peas works well for forgotten ones at the back of your crisper or those left on the vine for too long. If you happen to be picking and notice an older pea, don't fret! It can still be eaten after being preserved. That always makes me feel better!
Stringing peas is really easy to do:
- Wash peas with cold water, left whole, and pat dry with a clean towel.
- With a dull needle (perfect for little fingers!) and some cotton string/twine, begin stringing the peas through the pod. Leave a few inches in between each pod for airflow. Tie off the ends.
- Hang in a sunny window for about 2-3 weeks. It may take a while! Check for dryness of the pods by shaking. The peas inside should rattle.
- Once fully dried, store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. The maximum storage life for these is a little up-in-the-air from what I can tell. Some people say 2 months, others say they will last indefinitely! This is something I will have to see for myself and report back on!
- You can rehydrate the pods when ready to use by boiling for about 20 minutes. They can be used in any recipe that requires fresh/frozen peas. You can also salt them and eat dry as a snack!
Watching Tad pierce and string the peas was fascinating to me. I had never seen him so concentrated! This summer has really opened a new door to creativity for him. He's been asking to paint or color almost daily and always to play outside where he finds at least one or two nature treasures. The other day he found a skull right under our porch, which we have determined once belonged to an opossum.
He was so diligent and careful when stringing these up; I love experiencing all that he does! Maybe one day when he's old, he'll remember sitting on the porch stringing peas with his mama and drinking lemonade. Maybe he'll show his babies how to do it! It's those thoughts that make all of the "no, no, no's" and stressful moments pulling out/putting away the supplies worth it - right?! Just keeping it real!