Friday, September 8, 2017

A Southern's Love for Fresh Lady Peas

I wanted to share with you all a true Southerner's love of Lady Peas otherwise known as Creamette 12.  They are the sweetest of peas available.  Many, many varieties are grown by the South Georgia farmers, such as Pink Eyes, Zipper Peas, Little Lady Peas, Crowders and Purple Hull Peas, however the Lady Pea is by far the best!  My children love these peas and when we have a family gathering they always ask for me to make some.  I try to keep my freezer stocked with these peas.

Our love for these peas started a long time ago in Middle Georgia, Columbus to be exact.  My husband's momma and my mother cooked them all the time.  They used to be more readily available to the housewife back in the 50s and 60s.  Now you can't find them unless you go to South Georgia to a farmer's stand.  Even down south where my best friend grew up, you must get in line with the local farmer (if you are on his good list) and put your name down to get how many bushels you want to put up and there is a limit you can ask for. 

In recent years, I would go south with my friend to her home town and we would get lady peas and put them up and then bring them back to Atlanta frozen.  Then I would stock them for the winter in my freezer.  This is a practice that I still do, however this summer we were not able to do this as her freezer there went out.  So, recently when visiting South Georgia for a funeral, we stopped at a local farmer stand on the way home and they had a refrigerator with one bushel shelled for sale.  This is so rare this late in the season since it was September.  Of course, I snapped up that bushel for $32.00 and asked my hubby to go next door for ice for our Costco cooler to get them home. He's always accommodating to my whims, at least usually.

When we arrived home, this was my freezing preparation process:
  1. Put peas in a very clean large bowl and wash, taking out any trash you might have in gathering.
  2. Put a large stock pot on to boil using a double stock pot with strainer.  If you don't have a double stock pot with strainer don't worry. I used a regular stock pan for years and just strained the hot water off with my colander instead of the strainer inside the stock pot.
  3. Add peas and bring to a boil and boil for 6 minutes.
  4. Make sure you don't put too much water in as it will over boil.  Just cover the peas.
  5. While the peas are boiling, remove the skim that forms at the top, but you won't be able to gather it all.
  6. While the peas are boiling prepare your sink by cleaning it extensively.
  7. Fill it with cold water, enough to cover peas 
  8. Add enough ice so that the water is ice cold.
  9. Strain peas and only add peas to the ice-cold bath.
  10. Let peas sit in bath for a good 5-10 minutes making sure they are ice cold before removing.
  11. Start filling quart size Ziploc Freezer Bags for individual servings. Add a tiny bit of water and start to seal the Ziploc by folding over the bag expelling the air from the bag.  The water will help to push the air out.
  12. Place in your freezer after you date and label the bags.

While everyone has a different method of freezing, this one seems to work for me.  I have frozen peas for years this way and it always works. You never want to put them in the freezer while warm as they will sour.

Look for your peas soon as I believe the fall crops will be coming out at local farmer's markets around Georgia.  They will go fast! You will be so glad in January you did.

Happy Freezing!

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