Our peas are up and podding up nicely. They enjoy sun and rain, so have been steadily coming on.
We don’t grow too many real peas and truth be told half the time our peas end up in a serious muddle, the mange tout look very similar until a certain stage and often the ‘pea’ peas get harvested too early in a case of mistaken identity. We’re well aware of this problem but don’t seem to be able to get on top of it. Each year finds us humming and hawing and scrabbling around looking for the identifying markers that were carefully put in at the end of the row when the peas were planted. They mysteriously seem to relocate and confusion abounds.
Not many people grow regular peas anymore, there’s time involved and by the time enough are podded for dinner it’s easier to buy them frozen but it surely is a sweet treat. I like to eat them like sweeties, picking a few pods and munching away whilst gardening. They bring back childhood memories of sitting on the doorstep with my mum in the sunshine when I would help with the shelling and no doubt eat as many as landed in the colander.
It’s worth noting that peas began to deteriorate as soon as they’re picked, the sugar rapidly converts to starch, which is why frozen peas are so successful. If you can get you hands on recently picked peas they are delicious, but if they’ve travelled far it’s maybe not worth the effort.
There must be some massive pea farms out there somewhere, filling freezers worldwide with packets of neat green peas. I checked out the processing and came up with these interesting facts;
Peas are harvested, transported from the fields and frozen within 150 minutes, that’s only two and a half hours – 30 minutes picking by a machine called a ”viner’ which sucks up the peas from the field and removes the pods, 30 minutes travelling to the factory then 90 minutes to wash grade and freeze. It takes only 6 minutes to freeze a pea!
This all makes them the ultimate convenience vegetable, ready to use and very easy to prepare.
Here’s a recipe for a light and fresh pea soup, equally simple to make with fresh peas or frozen peas. It can be eaten hot or, if the heat-wave comes, chilled. I like it with a little creme fraiche but that’s optional.
Pea and Mint Soup
1 medium potato
25g butter or olive oil
750mls vegetable stock
450g peas – fresh or frozen
a bunch of mint, roughly chopped
Peel and chop the onion. Heat a saucepan, melt the butter or add the olive oil then stir in the chopped onion. Cook on a gentle heat.
Peel the potato and dice small, stir in with the onion and add a little salt and pepper to season. Cook gently for ten minutes without browning. This slow cooking is important as it adds depth of flavour,
Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the potato is tender then add the peas. Bring back to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat, add the chopped mint and puree using whichever gadget you own – stick blender, liquidiser or food processor, until smooth. Adjust the consistency by adding some water if the soup is too thick and check the seasoning.
Serve either hot or chilled, with a little dollop of crème fraiche if you fancy.