Peas can up very nicely.
It can depend on the variety, of course, but they do not end up dark or mushy as some people fear. Instead, they are appealing-looking, and delicious tasting.
They are nothing like store-bought tinned peas.
To be clear, this procedure applies to fresh, garden peas. It is not for dried field peas. For canning dried whole peas that will stay whole once rehydrated and cooked, as in dried beans, see: Canning beans.
Quantities of peas needed
Numbers are approximate guidelines.
Peas already podded
On average, as a very rough guideline, expect to need about 325 g (11 oz) of podded peas per ½ litre (US pint) jar of canned peas
2 kg (4.5 lb) = 6 x ½ litre (1 US pint) jars canned peas
Peas still in pods
(To be clear, peas must be podded before canning.)
- 2 kg (4 ½ lbs) peas in pods = 1 litre (1 US quart) jar canned peas
- 14 kg (31 ½ lbs) = 7 litre (US quart) jars canned peas
- 9 kg (20 lbs) = 9 x ½ litre (US pint) jars canned peas
Jar size choices: Either half-litre (1 US pint) OR 1 litre (1 US quart)
Processing method: Pressure canning only
Headspace: 3 cm (1 inch)
Processing pressure: 10 lbs (69 kPa) weighted gauge, 11 lbs (76 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet)
Processing time: Half-litre or litre (pint or quart), 40 minutes
- If you are starting with peas in pods: Wash pods. Shell peas. Wash peas again.
- Put peas in a large pot, and cover with water.
- Bring to a boil, then let boil 2 minutes.
- Drain, rinse in / under hot boiling water to get some starch off, then drain again.
- Pack hot peas loosely into heated half-litre (1 US pint) OR 1 litre (1 US quart) jars.
- Leave 3 cm (1 inch) headspace.
- Optional: a pinch of pickling salt or non-bitter, non-clouding salt sub per jar.
- Top jars up with either the blanching liquid, or fresh boiling water from a kettle, maintaining 3 cm (1 inch) headspace.
- Debubble; adjust headspace.
- Wipe jar rims.
- Put lids on.
- Processing pressure: 10 lbs (69 kPa) weighted gauge, 11 lbs (76 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet.)
- Processing time: either size jar 40 minutes.
Processing guidelines below are for weighted-gauge pressure canners. See also if applicable: Dial-gauge pressures.
|Jar Size||Time||0 to 300 m (0 - 1000 feet) pressure||Above 300 m (1000 ft) pressure|
|½ litre (1 US pint)||40 mins||10 lbs||15 lb|
|1 litre (1 US quart)||40 mins||10 lbs||15 lb|
NOTE: You may also do peas as a raw pack. See peas over on the National Center’s site.
How to pressure can.
When pressure canning, you must adjust the pressure for your altitude.
More information about Salt-Free Canning in general.
- USDA directions explicitly say that sugar-snap pod peas and Chinese pod peas are best frozen; that the quality attained by canning won’t be desirable.
- It’s normal for jars of peas to go cloudy after canning. It’s all the starch in the peas leaching out into the water. Even though most people don’t realize it, peas have a lot of starch in them: that’s why they are one of the very few veg that aren’t free on Weight Watchers!
This recipe comes from both the USDA and Ball /Bernardin Complete Book.
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 4 – 14.
- Kingry, Judi and Lauren Devine. Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving. Toronto, Canada: Robert Rose Inc. 2015. Page 390.
Ball, Bernardin and So Easy to Preserve (2014, page 93) add that you should wash the peas again after shelling them.
The USDA 2015 says: Bring to a boil, then let boil 2 minutes. Fill jars loosely with hot peas, and add cooking liquid. ( Note, the USDA also gives a raw-pack option. )
Ball / Bernardin Complete says: Boil small peas for 3 minutes, large peas for 5 minutes. “Drain, reserving cooking liquid for packing, if desired. Rinse peas in hot water and drain again.” (Page 390)
The book, So Easy to Preserve, says, “Corn, peas and lima beans are starchy and expand during processing. They should be packed loosely.”  Andress, Elizabeth L. and Judy A. Harrison. So Easy to Preserve. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Bulletin 989. Sixth Edition. 2014. Page 115.
Cloudy jars of peas
Canned peas can go cloudy in storage owing to the starch in them.
If you have canned your peas following the USDA procedure for home canned peas, there is nothing to worry about.
We think of peas as “green vegetables”, but anyone on Weight Watchers soon learns that peas count as a carb. Peas, like corn, as they get older turn increasingly from “veg” into “carb.” Some varieties of peas can have a lot of starch in them, period. Even other varieties, as they mature, can exude a little starch after canning.
The starch in your jar should not, however, be a mass of starch so heavy that it is a gelled mass. If that is the case, the peas were very mature, and so starchy that the procedure for fresh green peas may not have been sufficient.  Source: Elizabeth Andress to Randal Oulton. 20 October 2015. Email on file.
But a light bit of cloudiness floating in the water as pictured in the jar above just indicates some normal starch in the peas (again, provided you know that the proper canning procedure was fully followed.)
This possibility of cloudiness may be why the Ball / Bernardin Complete Book suggests a hot water rinse after blanching, to get some starch off. If you are going to do that for a less cloudy appearance in the jar, then you probably also want to use fresh boiling water as the canning liquid instead of the blanching water.
Serving size: 160 g, drained (about one cup. About one half of a ½ litre / US pint jar, if 325 g went into the jar.)
- 132 calories, 8 mg sodium
- Weight Watchers PointsPlus®: 3 points
* Nutrition info provided by https://caloriecount.about.com
* PointsPlus™ calculated by healthycanning.com. Not endorsed by Weight Watchers® International, Inc, which is the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark.
Botulism from improper home canning of peas
Peas must be pressure canned, no exceptions, because they are a low acid food. Botulism occurring from people trying to water-bath can peas was documented as early as 1919.
The researcher Georgina Burke from Stanford reported,
Seven cases of botulism were investigated by Dr E.C. Dickson of Leland Stanford Junior University School of Medicine during the winter of 1917 and 1918, and in four of those cases I succeeded in isolating Bacillus botulinus…. In two of those cases, vegetables were canned by the cold pack (one period) method. One of the cooks stated positively that she had kept the filled jars in a covered boiler with the water actively boiling for three hours. She did not, however, blanch the peas before placing them in the jars.” Burke, Georgia Spooner (Stanford University). The effect of heat on the spores of bacillus botulinus. Its bearing on home canning methods, part 1. JAMA. 1919;72(2):88-92. doi:10.1001/jama.1919.02610020006002.
In 1931, 12 people died in Grafton, North Dakota from water-bathed home-canned peas.
In June 2018, three women in New York City contracted botulism from improperly home-canned peas, which had been put in a potato salad.
“The patient who prepared the home-canned peas was a novice home canner. She used a peach preserves recipe with a boiling water technique, replacing the peaches with frozen [peas]. The patient was unaware that low-acid foods (e.g., vegetables) must be canned in a pressure canner rather than a boiling water canner to eliminate C. botulinum spores. After the jars cooled, the patient correctly checked for jar seal. One of the jars of peas was not sealed, so the patient covered and refrigerated it, and the family consumed the peas in the potato salad. The U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines state that “foods in single unsealed jars could be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within several days” (1). However, this recommendation applies only to cans that have been correctly processed. In the absence of a pressure-canning step, C. botulinum spores were not eliminated, and the closed jar created an anaerobic environment allowing spore germination and BoNT production.” Bergeron G, Latash J, Da Costa-Carter C, et al. Notes from the Field: Botulism Outbreak Associated with Home-Canned Peas — New York City, 2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:251–252. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6810a5external icon.
|↑1||Andress, Elizabeth L. and Judy A. Harrison. So Easy to Preserve. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Bulletin 989. Sixth Edition. 2014. Page 115.|
|↑2||Source: Elizabeth Andress to Randal Oulton. 20 October 2015. Email on file.|
|↑3||Burke, Georgia Spooner (Stanford University). The effect of heat on the spores of bacillus botulinus. Its bearing on home canning methods, part 1. JAMA. 1919;72(2):88-92. doi:10.1001/jama.1919.02610020006002.|
|↑4||Bergeron G, Latash J, Da Costa-Carter C, et al. Notes from the Field: Botulism Outbreak Associated with Home-Canned Peas — New York City, 2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:251–252. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6810a5external icon.|