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 beyond their brief spring season?
Freezing is the solution. If you just stick a bunch of raw sugar snap peas into the freezer, however, you'll end up with is a slightly slimy, partially discolored (brownish) vegetable. Not very appealing! 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 they are thawed; or they can be deliciously incorporated into stir-fries and other savory dishes straight from the freezer, as it is not necessary to thaw frozen sugar snap peas before cooking them.
Blanching is the process of cooking the vegetable briefly in boiling water and then plunging it into an ice water bath (to stop the cooking). It is an important step when freezing sugar snap peas since blanching the sugar snap pea pods destroys enzymes whose job it is to decompose organic matter once the pods are 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.
Steps to Freeze
There are a few steps to follow when freezing sugar snap peas, but it is worth it.
- Wash the pea pods. Snap off and compost or discard the stem ends of the pods.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Do not confuse with snow pea pods—the round shape of the snap peas should be detectable through the tender pods and will be bigger than the unformed peas that are in snow pea pods.