Yesterday Jasper and I made a quick* trip out to the farm to check on the progress of the peas. I just knew some of them would be ripe, and my hands were itching to start picking and shelling them.
Peas are kind of a staple food in my house – or at least they were until all the listeria-caused recalls pulled them off the shelves at the grocery stores. It’s so scary to think about modern industrial agriculture and the many ways it’s bad for us and for the earth, not least of which is the massive scale with which it can sicken people. Listeria, salmonella and E. coli are all deadly pathogens that are (relatively) commonly found in foods now, and I’m not even going to go into all the additives, hormones, pesticides and GMOs that are routinely used. It seems like there is always some kind of disease, some kind of recall, some kind of really good reason to spurn industrial food. And so now we are.
Starting with the peas.
We picked about a pound of pods this time. There were so many just on the verge of being ready, but we decided to give them another couple of days to plump up.
That pound of pods yielded up one cup of shelled peas, which don’t taste or even look like those shriveled balls of mush that you can buy at the store. They all have the cutest little stems attached to them, and even after being blanched (cooked for a very short amount of time to kill the enzymes that cause decomposition) and frozen, the peas tasted fresh, sweet and summery, just like if I’d eaten them straight off the vine. They still had a hint of crispness to them without being hard or chewy, and there was not the slightest bit of mushiness to be found, which is a big plus for the girls.
The biggest plus for me and Jasper is that we know who planted and grew these (me!), we know who harvested, shelled and washed them (me, again!) and we also know that said person washed her hands and employs very hygienic practices in the kitchen. There is no listeria or salmonella to be feared in this particular bag of peas!
I don’t know if I planted enough peas to preserve and get us through the entire year though. This is the first time we’ve ever done this, but I’ve read that you should plant about 30 plants per person. I think we may have planted 120 peas, but I’m not sure. I didn’t count as I planted this year, but you can be sure I will be taking much more detailed records next year.
I do know, however, that it will take about 16 cups of peas to fill a gallon bag and I want a LOT of gallon bags in my freezer. So I think it’s safe to say that we are going to have an equally lot of pea picking in our future, but that’s OK. Growing and preserving safe, healthy and homegrown food for our family is what’s important and we consider it time well spent.
* Quick ended up being about 2 hours. There is just so much to DO out there!