Abundant Snow Peas
Adaptability. Some embrace it, others descry it, fact is…it happens. What does it mean? It’s the ability of a species to alter behaviour in response to changes in the environment.
Humans have been doing it for thousands of years. We’re one of the most adaptable species on the planet. Others aren’t as lucky. Climate change is reeking havoc across the globe. Food crops are failing and food insecurity is forcing rapid adaptation in plants, animals and humans. Some make it, some don’t.
The need for adaptation is really noticeable in my garden. We had a cold, wet and very long spring.
In fact, we’ve only had five days of sunny weather in what seems like months. It’s set some of my veggies and fruit back a few weeks, while others just aren’t doing so well and may not make it.
Pre Processing-Wish I’d remembered to write down the type they were!
Adaptability plays big in food security. My peas have never done so well and I’ll be harvesting about 40 pounds of broad beans. I also have an impressive crop of Oregon grape berries and the blueberries are dripping off the bushes. My tomatoes, eggplant and cucumber didn’t fair as well.
Growing a variety of plants, I can focus on consuming and preserving what’s produced well. And in response to what’s happening with the climate I can plant additional crops geared to the weather.
In other words, I adapt.
Over the past two years of growing, that is the best lesson I have learned. You preserve what you can.
Last year was great for eggplant but my peas didn’t produce enough to freeze. Blueberries only produced enough to eat off the bush but raspberries were overflowing.
About a month and a half ago when I heard weather forecasts predicting rain, rain and more rain, I dug up my failing eggplant and planted more pac choi. The cucumber plants were stressed, so I broadcast more lettuce seed around them, just in case they didn’t make it.
I may not be able to make pickles this year or store many squash, but we will be eating blueberries in December and delicious snow peas in January!
Freezing Snow Peas
The secret to freezing snow peas is a quick blanch a few peas at a time followed by a thorough cold water bath.
1. Prepare peas by washing and removing left over petals or stems.
2. Place four cups of snow peas in a steamer over boiling water. Cover and let blanch for about a minute or until a brighter, fresher green colour.
You may need to keep adding ice cubes
3. Remove from steamer and immediately put in a sink full of cold water and ice cubes (you may need to add more ice cubes periodically).
4. Do the next 4 cup batch. I like to set up an assembly line as I do it by myself. Pot is on stove with steamer and water. I use tongs to remove blanched peas and put in the sink which is right beside the stove. The strainer is in a large bowl to catch the drips.
After drip drying put in freezer bags
5. When all the peas are done and excess water removed put into freezer bags and seal.
Some of the food I preserve is earmarked as medicines. Oregon Grape is high in antioxidants and antibacterial properties. The stems and root contain berberine a potent medicine that is known to help with diarrhea caused by dysentery and when applied to skin is soothing and healing for eczema, rashes and slows abnormal skin cell growth.
The berries also contain berberine which gives them the lovely bitter flavour! I use the powder for bladder and kidney infections.
Preserving Oregon Grape Berries
Oregon grape on stems
Do not eat them fresh, unless you really, really like bitter. They don’t taste good at all. I use them for medicines. Some people make jam and jelly, I don’t as I would have to add too much sugar.
1. Snip clumps of grape at top of berry covered stem. Hold a bowl underneath so you catch any falling fruit.
2. Remove by running your fingers down the stem.
Run fingers along stem to pop berries off.
3. Rinse well as earwigs love nestling amongst the berries.
4. Lay berries on dehydrating trays and process till crisp.
Ready for dehydrating
5. Using a mortar and pestle crush berries into a powder or store in dark bottles (I recycle Fleischmann’s yeast bottles).