“I never realised the East Riding produces the largest quantity of peas in the whole of Europe.”

Most Reverend Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York


Peas freeze well. But cooking them in boiling water takes away all the flavour and interest. So this is the method to go for.

There’s only one snag to the method. One of the good things about peas is that they are low on fat and cholesterol. By cooking them in butter you rather ruin those advantages. So if you are concerned about your health you can try an alternative, and almost just as easy, medieval approach using a banana shallot and saffron instead of mint and butter.


Recipe for cooking frozen peas and making them taste wonderful


For each person you’ll need


  • 90g/3 oz/⅔ cup peas
  • a generous walnut or two of butter
  • ½ tsp golden caster sugar
  • ½ tsp smoked salt
  • sprig of mint if you have one to hand


  1. The thing to do is to warm them gently for about five minutes in butter. A cup of peas will be enough for two people.
  2. Add them, straight from the freezer, to a saucepan, and warm gently with a couple of knobs (be generous) of butter.
  3. Add half a teaspoon of golden caster sugar, half a teaspoon of smoked salt, and a sprig of mint.
  4. Serve triumphantly!


Medieval version of peas with saffron and shallots

There’s a development of this…. well, I’m not sure ‘development’ is exactly the right word since the idea comes from the The Forme of Cury, a cookbook written by Richard II’s head chef around 1390. Once the peas are cooked it instructs,

“Take onions and mince them, and boil with the peas and add oil. Add sugar, salt and saffron, boil well together and serve”

This really is surprisingly good. The method for this then would be exactly as above, but:

  1. add a finely chopped banana shallot to the frozen peas and fry the two in olive oil rather than butter.
  2. forget the mint, and add some strands of soaked saffron




For a definitive guide to peas, follow this link.


cooking frozen peas

The saffron donates a lively splash of orange