How To Freeze Purple Hull Peas

Purple hull peas are a classic vegetable in traditional American dishes. A staple in kitchens across the south, preserving these protein-packed, bean-like peas allows you to cook them year-round. They ripen in the late summer, the best pods are half pink and half green. The longer they dry on the vine, the more the flavor changes.


Step One: Shelling

Purple hull pea shelling is a sport in Arkansas where the bean originated. Competitions are held yearly. If you’ve got a bushel to do you can even rent or buy a small shelling machine.

There are two seams along each side of the pea. One is darker than the other, and the darker one is easier to open. There is a vein running along the seam that will unzip the pod if you pull on it. Use your fingers to loosen the peas on the inside and shake them into a bowl or colander.

Once shelled there are four steps:

  • Washing
  • Blanching
  • Shocking
  • Freezing

Step Two: Washing

Once out of the pod, purple hull peas look like a bowl full of unripe beans. They should be washed, and some people wash them multiple times. You can fill the bowl with water and turn them over with your hands removing any debris, discolored peas, or shriveled peas. Repeat the washing a couple of times if you desire.

Step Three: Blanching

This really is the key to good tasting freezer food. Peas especially benefit from blanching prior to freezing; don’t skip this step. Peas frozen without blanching will be mushier and lose much more flavor.

Fill a blanching pot with water and bring it to a rolling boil. If you don’t have a blanching pot you can put them in a colander or just straight into the pot. Let them sit in the boiling water for 2 minutes, do not boil them longer. The goal is not to cook the beans, just to stop enzyme activity.

Step Four: Shocking

When 2 minutes has passed it’s time to shock them. This immediately stops any cooking that is happening and firms up the peas. Prepare a bowl or sink full of ice water. It’s important to have enough ice, you don’t want the peas to warm the water.

Take the peas straight from the boiling water and into the ice water bath. Continue to run cool water over them until they are cool.

Step Five: Freezing

Once cooled, simply pour or funnel the peas into freezer bags of any desired size. They will last up to twelve months in the freezer. label them so you remember when you froze them. Take a bag out to enjoy fresh southern peas all year.