Come early-spring, we reintroduce fresh greens and fresh herbs to our diet, but by May and June, the root cellar is bare, and the main food crops are just beginning to provide by July. So eating seasonally during these months means relying on canned or frozen food and dry goods.
In 2007, we had a bumper crop of shelling peas, so I let the last harvest go to maturity, hoping that I would have some dry peas, along with my seed. I harvested about 3 lbs of dry peas off that late crop, and after sorting out the best of them for seed, I tried some in a pot. I soaked them like chickpeas, they were just about the same size, but wrinkly, because they are a shelling variety and not a drying variety. They plumped up in the soak, and took about 4 hours to cook all the way through. They were tasty, but did not cook down to a puree like split peas usually do. So I decided to try a variety specifically for drying.
In 2008 garden I had a packet of St. Hubert Drying Pea seeds, and planted out a 30' double row. From this I was able to harvest 6 1/4 lbs of gorgeous smooth round peas. They were quite easy to grow, considering I only have to harvest once, at the end of the season. I trellised them, and they were quite productive, with 3" pods, each with 6-9 peas. The pods dried out well on the vine, earlier than the dry beans, and not many of them popped open before I harvested. I pulled up the vines all together, and brought them into a shed to pick and shell.
The true test was in the kitchen. I soaked them overnight, and they cooked down to a beautiful puree in 2 1/2 to 3 hours. They had a delicious, smooth texture, and taste great with sweet storage carrots and pungent onions. Pea soup makes a great spring food, not as heavy as potatoes, but rich in protein for heavy spring garden work.