How to Blanch and Freeze Sugar Snap Peas

sugar-snap-peas.JPG
Just-blanched sugar snap peas ready to eat or preserve by freezing. Leda Meredith

Sugar snap peas are a fantastic spring treat, only in season for a few weeks, and naturally sweet enough to snack on raw. But what if you want to enjoy them after their brief spring season?

If you just stick a bunch of raw sugar snap peas into the freezer, what you'll end up with is a slightly slimy, partially discolored (brownish) vegetable. Yuck! But if you take just a few minutes to blanch before freezing, you'll end up with a treat that is ready to munch on right after it is thawed or can be deliciously incorporated into stir-fries and other savory dishes.

Blanching the sugar snap pea pods destroys enzymes whose job it is to decompose organic matter once it is plucked from the parent plant. Although the cold temperatures inside the freezer cancel out harmful bacteria, they do not destroy those enzymes. The blanching step takes care of that.

Here is the best way to freeze sugar snap peas:

Prepare

Wash the pea pods. Snap off and compost or discard the stem ends of the pods.

Blanch

Get a large bowl of ice water ready.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the sugar snap peas into the pot of rapidly boiling water. Let them cook for just 1 1/2 minutes. Drain the sugar snap peas quickly in a colander.

Chill

Immediately transfer the sugar snap peas to the bowl of ice water. This stops the residual heat in the peas from continuing to cook them. Leave the peas in the ice water for 2 minutes. Once again, drain them well in a colander.

Single Layer Freeze

Spread the blanched sugar snap pea pods in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Freeze for 1 to 2 hours (until completely frozen through).

Transfer the frozen sugar snap peas to freezer bags or containers and label with the date. Frozen sugar snap peas will keep for 8 months. They are still safe to eat after that, but their quality will decline.

Tips

The quicker you can get sugar snap peas from harvest to freezer, the tastier the final product will be.

Look for pea pods that are bright green and not yet starting to dry out at the stem end. The round shape of the peas should be detectable through the tender pods and will be bigger than the unformed peas that are in snow pea pods.

It is not necessary to thaw frozen sugar snap peas before cooking them.