Friday, July 18, 2014

Drying Peas Three Ways With and Without a Dehydrator

We have been having a very mild summer here this year, so we are just now finishing up our pea crop in July! We have been bringing in bowls full of peas to freeze and blanch. However, towards the end of pea season we start switching to drying peas to put in soups and to seed save for next year. I have been growing some beautiful heirloom purple and yellow peas that I wanted to seed save for next year. The yellow pod peas (Golden Sweet) are the best peas I have ever tasted!

To dry my peas, I either leave them in the pod and allow them to air dry in a cool dark place or I place them in my dehydrator. Dehydrating is not every exact like canning. Canning is very exact. When the directions say to process for 10 minutes, you process for 10 minutes not 8 minutes or 12 minutes. When you dry food, the amount of time needed depends upon how much moisture is in the food and how much moisture is in the air. My peas air dried in 3 days, but yours might take 2 or they might take 5. If you live in a very humid area, then you will need to take care to place your peas in an area without a lot of humidity. Basically, you just have to learn by trial and error. The peas are ready to removed from their pods and stored in an air tight container when the pods make a crackle noise when you press on them. They should be crunchy. When you break open the pods to remove the peas, you should not feel any moisture left in the pods. For seed saving, I only use air drying methods since adding heat will affect the germination of my peas next year.

If you have lots of extra garden space, you could just let your peas dry on the vine. I am usually impatient and want to plant something in their place long before the vines dry out, but that is an option if you have ample garden space. Simply let the vines and pods dry out until brown and crunchy. Then you can remove the peas from their pods and save them in an air tight container. 

To dehydrate my peas in a dehydrator, I use an Excalibur dehydrator. According to the book, Dehydrator Bible by Jennifer MacKenzie, Jav Nutt, and Don Mercer peas should be dehydrated at 130 degrees for 8 to 10 hours F after a 3 minute blanching period. According the manufacture's instructions for my dehydrator, vegetables should be dehydrated at 125 degrees F, so I use this setting for my peas, and I have had wonderful results using this temperature in my dehydrator. I would recommend using the temperature recommended by the manufacturer of your dehydrator over outside advice for your first time dehydrating. I do blanch my peas before dehydrating in a dehydrator. Blanching kills off any enzymes in the peas that will cause the peas to break down over time. In a dehydrator, my peas take 8 hours. At the end of the dehydration period my peas are slightly shriveled and brittle when cut open. If you take a handful of dehydrated peas in your hand and shake your hand, then it sounds like a handful of little pebbles rattling around inside in your hand. I have also found that some varieties of peas shrivel more than others when dehydrated due to differing water content of different types peas. For example, my Blue Podded peas shrivel much less than the Golden Sweet peas.

Directions for Air Drying Peas not on the vine

1. Place the pods on a single layer on a cookie sheet or plate. Paper plates do not work well for drying because they hold moisture which can cause your peas to mold during the drying process. 
2. Place the peas in a cool dry place until dry.
3. Drying can take anywhere from 48 hours to 1 week.
4. Store dried peas in an air tight container.

Directions for Air Drying Peas on the vine

1. Leave the peas on their vines in the garden.
2. When the vines and pods turn brown and crunchy, harvest the dried peas and store in an air tight container.

Directions for Drying Peas in a Dehydrator

1. Remove the peas from the pods.
2. Bring a pot of water to a hard boil.
3. Submerge the peas in the boiling water for 3 minutes. Do not start timing the peas in the boiling water until the water is boiling again. Ideally, your pot should be hot enough that the boiling only stops for a few seconds before resuming. If you are having trouble getting the pot to go back to a boil quickly, then try small batches of peas.
4. Submerge the peas in a bowl of ice water to stop the boiling. The peas should remain in the ice water until cool, about 3 minutes.
5. Drain the peas from the water and place in a single layer in your dehydrator.
6. Dehydrate the peas at 125 degrees F or the temperature recommended by your dehydrator.
7. After 8 hours check on the peas. They should be wrinkly and brittle when cut. If they peas are still too moist, then place back in the dehydrator for another 1 hour.
8. Check the peas hourly until they are done.

Cooking with dried peas

1. Rinse the dried peas and soak for 6 hours before cooking.
2. Dried peas will burst and make a puree when cooked. This makes a lush silky soup. The exact amount of time of cooking will depend on recipe.

1 comment:

  1. How cool! Peas are my favorite vegetables and I can't wait until I can move out of my apartment and into a house with garden space!



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