Putting up with each other: Sugar Snap Pea Pickles

We were awash in peas!  Not just peas, but greens, pickling cucumbers, zucchini, and broccoli.  In one action-packed evening, Jen and Callista not only pickled peas, but also made indian spiced cucumber pickles, and froze, blanched, and processed a bunch of other green deliciousness.  This intensely productive night occurred because Jen’s farm – and thus, our fridge – is overflowing with good foodstuffs to be quickly eaten or preserved, or doomed to the compost heap outside our home.  It’s that time of the harvest season.

A small fraction of the copious amounts of green garden goodness appearing in our home on the daily.

To combat the tide of peas threatening to consume our very souls, we hunted down this recipe for pickling peas.  Although it is technically only for sugar snap peas, we used it in conjunction with our non-sugar-snap-pea-purist standards, including stray peas that were not sugar snaps in our ultimate pickle product.  So, if you see peas in the photos that aren’t sugar snap peas, its because we are inclusive, anti-peaist people.

Sorted peas. Can you guess which is which?

First, we sorted the peas.  Because we had so many peas, we decided to pickle some and blanch and freeze others.  We sorted through our mountain of peas, choosing the freshest, healthiest looking peas for pickling, the next-best-looking peas for blanching and freezing, and the remainder of unhealthy-looking (dried out, eaten by bugs or critters, floppy, wrinkled, or just really past their prime) peas for the compost.

Next, we gave the peas a good rinse off, to get off any residual dirt or wee critters before beginning our pickling project.  We mixed up our brine (a vinegar, sugar and salt solution), setting it aside to cool as we continued to prep our peas for pickling.

Rinsing peas in our kitchen sink

While rinsing off our peas, we needed to destring them.  This was a tricky process for newbies like Callista and Sleepy C.  JB was a pro.  What you gotta do is this: grab the stem end of the pea.  Pulling the stem along the inside curve of the body of the pea, the string should detach from the body of the pea:


Before de-stringing: pea with stem and string intact


De-stringing: Not the love you think you see. Callista shows our friend Carl how to de-string a pea properly.

And finally:

A pea and its string, successfully separated at last.

Spices awaiting their pickling fate at the bottom of a jar

Next, after de-stringing the peas successfully, it was time to put our spices in the jars that we would be using: whole garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, white peppercorns, mustard seeds, and coriander seeds all went into the jars first.  Then, we began the tricky, tetris-esque puzzle of packing as many peas as possible into each of the three jars!  The peas that wouldn’t fit in the jars were set aside, to be blanched and frozen later.  Finally, we filled each jar to the brim with our vinegar-water-sugar-salt brine, filling the spaces that weren’t being used up by peas or spices, and capped our jars.  We tucked our jars of soon-to-be-pickled peas in the fridge to begin the pickling process, and sat back to wait!  (JUST KIDDING.  We were hard at work all evening, making indian spice pickles and processing a ton of other fresh foods.)

Packing the peas into their new jar-homes!

Peas pickling

Ostensibly, the idea behind pickling stuff is so that it will be around to enjoy days, weeks, or months in the future, when the fresh stuff isn’t available for munching.  With these refrigerator pickled peas, we didn’t complete the canning process that would make them shelf-safe for months to come, so we were under no illusions about their lifespan – we knew we would be enjoying these pickles for only as long as they stuck around in our fridge.  But they were so tasty and easy to snack on, they disappeared right away – one jar was polished off by a particularly hungry housemate in one sitting!