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When I was 9 years old, my family lived next door to a sweet, older couple. Guy was an avid gardener who spent hours tending his spacious yard. His wife Jan was more interested in grooming her miniature poodle. Mitzi was a fluffy, friendly little pup that had both her owners wrapped around her tiny paws.
Though Guy could be initially gruff, one look at his garden and it was obvious that he adored Mitzi. Though he'd readily admit that he was a meat and potatoes guy, he dedicated a goodly portion of his prime growing space to sugarsnap peas. He didn't raise them for their dinner table. They were there because Mitzi liked them.
She had learned to stand on her back legs in order to reach the pea pods. Delicately plucking one off with her front teeth, she'd trot to a shady spot and consume her treat. During the growing season, Guy and Jan delightedly displayed Mitzi's harvesting talent to any neighbor who showed even the faintest interest.
I cannot eat a sugarsnap pea without remembering this scene.
Though I like them raw or gently sautéed until tender-crisp, one of my favorite things to do to sugarsnaps is to quickly pickle them in a gingery, barely sweetened brine. I make them as a refrigerator pickle so that they keep their crunch and eat them with open-face sandwiches or chopped and tossed with grain salads.
Before You Get Started
Make sure to use the freshest sugarsnap peas you can find. No pickling brine can restore crunch to a pea that's lost it through aging.
Because these peas are so naturally sweet, I only add a tablespoon of honey to the brine. I find that it mellows the vinegar ever so slightly. However, if you like a sweeter pickle, feel free to add more.
If you can't find sugarsnap peas, this recipe works equally well with snow peas. They won't be quite as crunchy, but they'll taste just fine.
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About the author: Marisa McClellan is a food writer, canning teacher, and dedicated pickler who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her jams, pickles and preserves (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars.