Grow and cook your own mushy peas .. way better than the stuff in cans ! Last year I tried a variety of peas called “Maro” from Thomson and Morgan ( update December 2014 – T&M appear to have discontinued this pea, q quick Google shows DT Brown still sell them LINK HERE ), as we use quite a lot of frozen mushy peas, preferring them to the canned. Having grown them, dried and subsequently cooked them I can say they are just as good or better than the frozen ones, and also have the advantage that you can store them dried in the cupboard, rather than taking up valuable freezer space. This short blog covers the growing, cooking and eating with one of my favourite recipes home made cheese and onion pie, with mushy peas.
You can either start the peas off in the ground, or in a seed tray ( which I usually do). I then transplanted out to about 1ft apart, and trained up a trellis of canes. It is important to keep tying them up, until they become established. Let them flower, pod, and let the pods completely dry out (ie go to seed), so they become white, and the peas inside are wrinkled. Then during a dry spell, when they pods are completely dry, harvest the peas, let them dry out completely somewhere warm and dry for a couple more days, then store them in an air-tight jar.
To cook the peas, you need to soak them overnight, my mother told me to add a tablet of bicarb of soda to the water, which I duly did. I did a quick google, to see if there were any other references to this, and from wikipedia the entry says .. ” Sodium Bicarbonate is often added to soften the peas to enhance the colour and to inhibit fermentation during soaking, which reduces later flatulance in consuming said foods”. If also says in Wikipedia that without any artificial colouring chemicals that mushy peas are greyish, I would disagree, mine were green.
Then you wash them thoroughly and put in a pan just covered with water ( about 1 inch over the top), simmer for around 30 mins, bring them up to the boil a couple of times during the process, and stir vigorously as this helps to break them down to the mushy consistency. Make sure they don’t dry out too much, but equally don’t over add the water.
We have them with fish and chips, and also with our delicious home made cheese and onion pie, the recipe for which is below.
Ingredients ( for 2-4 people)
1 large potato
1 large white onion
Half a block of mature cheddar cheese cut into slices around 1/4″
Home made, or pre-made shortcrust pastry, to make a lid for the pie.
Round flan/quiche dish, or shallow pryex bowl
Scrub the potato ( leave the skin on if you like), and slice into pieces around 1/4″ thick. Boil in a pan of water until just starting to go soft ( don’t over do them). Slice the onion into thin slices, but don’t dice. Fry the onions until just soft in some olive oil.
Layer the potatoes in the bottom of the dish, then add a layer of onions, then of cheese slices making sure the cheese covers all the layers below. Season well with ground black pepper, and a grind of salt. If you are serving 4 then repeat the layers. Finally roll out the pastry into a thin lid, and place on top. Cook in a pre-heated Oven, 180degrees fan assisted for around 25 minutes, until the pastry is cooked. Serve hot with a very generous helping of mushy peas.