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Let the canning begin: Pickled field peas

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The Runaway Spoon

(Read caption) Add onions, peppers, and garlic to field peas while pickling for an extra kick of flavor. The canned peas will keep for a year in a cool dry place.

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Field peas are one of my favorite things about summer. I freeze them in little baggies to pull out at the height of the winter blahs to remind me of the warmer months. I always seem to remember them as warmer months, not miserable, stifling hot and humid. On Saturdays, when I am cooking and putting by my farmers market purchases, I put them on to cook with some piece of pork, garlic or onion and let them bubble away while I work. But I also love them chilled in salads, so I decided to work on a pickled relish that would hark back to those fresh summer salads, chock full of farmers market ingredients, with a nice vinegary zing.

The peas need to be of roughly the same size. I have found that tiny lady peas turn mushy and disintegrate, while larger butter beans are unevenly pickled.  Crowder, whippoorwill and the darker peas tend to turn the brine an unattractive color.You could add some zipper or cream peas, as long as they size is right. If you like a little spice, very finely dice a jalapeno or two and add to the mix, or put a whole hot chili in while cooking, then fish it out before canning.  You could also add a pinch of dried pepper flakes.

Pickled field peas are a great relish beside roast pork, but also make a great dip for corn chips. In the middle of winter, you can pretend it’s summer by serving a scoop of this pickle in a lettuce cup as a salad. Pickle black-eyed peas alone, and you have a perfect hostess gift for New Year’s, or a special treat to serve for good luck.

Pickled Field Peas

2 pounds fresh field peas, all about the same size – purple hull, pink-eye, black-eye or a combination
1 large Vidalia onion
2 green bell peppers
1 red or orange bell pepper or 1 pimento pepper
3 cloves garlic
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons canning salt or 3 tablespoons table salt
1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

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