29 Jan Sorry, Fresh Peas. Frozen Peas are Just Better.
Article sourced from Epicurious
I’ve always liked the idea of fresh peas. So beautiful and round and green, so lovely in their crisp shells. And every now and then, when the peas are picked at freshly picked and eaten at just the right moment, a fresh pea is pure joy. But those moments are all too rare. There are too many variables that have to be just right in order for a fresh pea to actually taste good, and often they’re just starchy and mealy and not sweet.
I recently tried to make a spring chowder with fresh English peas in it, and the soup was a weird, mushy mess until I switched to frozen sweet peas. My first go at this braised leeks and peas dish for Easter was a disaster because I tried to be fancy and use fresh peas—and again once I switched to frozen peas, everything was better.
I’ve been disappointed by fresh peas so many times, in fact, that I’ve decided to go ahead and declare my loyalty to Team Frozen Peas henceforth. Frozen peas, which are always picked and flash-frozen at the exact peak moment of ripeness, will never let you down. A bag of frozen peas (here’s a list of our favorite ones) can sit in your freezer for months and still taste delicious, crisp, and sweet when you defrost them.
The key to preparing meals with frozen peas is to be sure not to overcook them. This is crucial. Frozen peas are flash-steamed before they’re frozen, so they’re already ready to eat—you just want to warm them very quickly so they maintain their slight bounce and bright color. Despite what their packages say, if you cook frozen peas for longer than a minute, they lose their sweetness and that delicious pea “pop.”
Sometimes I defrost my frozen peas before using them so they don’t cool down whatever I’m stirring them into, like that leek-and-lettuce braise or the spring chowder. To do so, I just run frozen peas under cool water in a strainer until they’re no longer frozen—it doesn’t take long. If I’m cooking them in boiling water, I don’t bother defrosting them at all: I dump the peas directly from frozen into the boiling water, give it a stir, and then immediately strain.
This is a great trick for adding peas to pasta: as soon as the pasta is about to be done cooking, add frozen peas to the pot along with the pasta, and then drain everything together and bingo bango your one-pot pasta dinner is ready to go. When I’m feeling even more clever, I add asparagus a few minutes before the peas for a one-pot spring pasta dinner.
So, hey, I’m sorry, fresh peas. You should know that I really did want to love you. You’re so pretty and romantic in the spring. But I need a dependable partner in the kitchen, so from now on, frozen peas are it for me.