William Dickey / Styling Rose Nguyen / Food Styling Mary Allen Perry
Puttin' Up Peas
It is the perfect time to freeze fresh Southern field peas. Whether you lean towards delicate lady creams or heartier black-eyed or crowder peas, head down to your local farmers market to pick up your favorite types. You can even include some snap beans to add a different texture and color to your frozen mix. When choosing peas in the shell, look for pods that are flexible and well-filled with tender seeds.
To prepare for freezing, wash shelled peas, and cook in boiling water (1 gal. per lb. of peas) for 2 minutes. (Cook snap beans 3 minutes.) Drain and immediately plunge into ice water; let stand 2 minutes. Drain well. Transfer peas to airtight containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace, or pack into zip-top plastic freezer bags, squeezing out excess air. Freeze up to 6 months. Use frozen field peas as you would fresh; do not thaw them before using.
Savoring the sun-kissed flavor of juicy peaches all year long is easy--simply freeze them at their peak. Freeze sliced, peeled peaches with or without a sugar syrup, depending on how you plan to serve them. Either way, add lemon juice or commercial powdered fruit preservative such as Fruit-Fresh to protect color and texture. Look for fruit preservatives in the produce or canning sections of your supermarket.
For jams and jellies or cooked dishes, such as pies and cobblers, freeze peaches without sugar, and thaw only partially prior to use. Thaw in the refrigerator about 6 hours or until peach slices can be separated but are still semi-frozen; use immediately.
As sugar syrup further helps retain color and texture, peaches frozen with syrup are the better bet for uncooked applications, such as served over pound cake or ice cream. Thaw syrup-packed peaches in the refrigerator 8 to 10 hours, and plan to use thawed peaches within 1 day.
Unsweetened peaches: Gently toss 4 cups sliced, peeled peaches with 1 Tbsp. powdered fruit preservative or a mixture of 1 tsp. lemon juice and 1 Tbsp. water. Pack into a 1-qt. zip-top plastic freezer bag, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Squeeze out excess air, and seal; freeze. Use within 3 to 6 months.
Syrup-packed peaches: Stir together 2 1/2 cups sugar, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or 4 tsp. powdered fruit preservative, and 1 qt. water until sugar dissolves. Pour 1/2 cup sugar syrup into a 1-qt. zip-top plastic freezer bag. Add 4 cups sliced, peeled peaches and additional syrup to cover peaches (about 1 cup), leaving 1 inch of headspace. Squeeze out excess air, and seal; freeze. Use within 8 months.
Flavored Seasoning Butter
Prepared in minutes and kept on hand in the freezer, this herb- and citrus-scented butter gives last-minute meals a burst of fresh flavor. Try it atop grilled fish and meats or melted into hot cooked pasta or rice; it's especially delicious stirred into steamed or grilled veggies. Give it your signature by substituting your favorite herb or by adding a touch of lime or orange zest or a small amount of minced garlic. (Note: Use less of stronger herbs such as rosemary, sage, or tarragon.) Lemon-Herb Seasoning Butter: Stir together 1/2 cup softened butter, 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives, 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, and 2 tsp. grated lemon rind until well blended. Cover and refrigerate to use within a few days. For longer storage, form into a log or press into ice cube trays, and wrap tightly with plastic wrap; freeze up to 1 month.
Test Kitchens Recipe Box: Cookin' Up Field Peas
We've compiled our favorite field pea recipes for you to try. Fresh or frozen field peas can easily be substituted in recipes calling for rinsed and drained canned peas. Simply use 2 cups cooked and drained peas for 1 (15-oz.) can. For good measure, we've also included recipes for chowchow and cornbread--accompaniments you're sure to crave when a pot of peas is simmering on the stovetop.
Freezing Fresh Vegetables
Freezing is a simple way to preserve vegetables at home. Here are some tips.
General Freezing Instructions:
The Cooperative Extension service at Clemson University recommends the following blanching times.
The following times vary based on size.
"From Our Kitchen" is from the July 2006 issue of Southern Living.