I could have sworn that the only variety of pea I planted this year was English—the kind you shell before eating—but instead we’ve found ourselves struggling to eat our way through a big, continuous crop of flat-podded snow peas. Although I’ll probably freeze some, I’ve found that peas in their pods, like green beans, are best preserved by pickling. So the other day I pickled some snow peas just as I often do snap peas (the kind with rounded but still edible pods), with white wine vinegar and tarragon in a quart jar that I’ve stored in the refrigerator. Today I may stand some peas in pint jars and process the pickled peas for pantry storage in the same way I do dilly beans.
You can vary the seasonings in this recipe, of course. If you shy away from the licorice-like flavor of tarragon, try thyme. Use black, green, or pink peppercorns instead of chiles, or try some mace or nutmeg. And instead of wine vinegar use cider vinegar, if you don’t mind its slight golden hue.
Once you open a jar of these sweet, tart, crisp pea pods, expect them to disappear in a wink.
Pickled Snow Peas
1 1/4 cups white wine vinegar
1 1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon pickling salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 pound snow (or snap) peas, stemmed and strung
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 or 2 small dried chiles, slit lengthwise
1 or 2 sprigs of fresh tarragon
In a saucepan, bring to a boil the vinegar, water, salt and sugar, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Let the liquid cool.
Pack the peas into a quart jar along with the garlic, the hot pepper or two, and the tarragon. Cover the peas with the cooled liquid, and close the jar with a plastic cap.
Store the jar in the refrigerator for at least two weeks before eating the peas. Chilled, they will keep for months.