Vegenista Academy – The Pea Harvest
As you know, our Goodlife team are all fully fledged veg experts – vegenistas! To keep us up to date with all goings on in the veg world, we pay a visit to our farmers and suppliers regularly to learn about the veg, the growers and the processes they go through to make sure we have the highest quality of ingredients to go into our products. Only the best for Goodlife!
Our most resent Vegenista Academy visit was to a farm owned by the man referred to only as “The Pea God” (well – we didn’t make up the name, but he really is the master of peas!) as well as to the factory that processes our peas to see exactly how it’s done.
We use specially selected Petit Pois in our French Bean, Spinach & Wenselydale Cheese Sausage and we followed the journey of one batch from field to factory.
It turns out the pea process is a little more complicated that we thought, so there was a lot of information to take in! Each year, just before Christmas, the farmers who grow the peas choose the land they will plant on – taking into account things such as altitude, heat units, the varieties they wish to plant, sunlight etc.
The farmers then plant the peas in sequence from early March until the end of May (weather permitting, of course!). If all goes according to plan, the farmers then harvest the peas in the same order in which they were planted; using a very technical piece of farming equipment called a pea viner!
Just before each harvest, a small number of the peas are tested for maturity using a machine called a “tenderometer” – its exactly what it says on the tin, squeezing the peas to test how tender they are. The meter reading then tells you what grade of pea is in the field, ranging from “AA”, which is very soft, sweet and tender, to “DD” which are the firmer peas, and are more versatile as they hold their shape and texture in intense heat.
When they’re at the correct grading, the pea viners are sent in for the full field harvest. The picture below is of a fully mature pea plant flower – quite pretty, don’t you agree? The pea viner then pods the peas in the field, where they are then transported to the processing factory just 30 minutes away.
Here is the really important part – where the peas are cleaned properly to make sure we get the best peas for our sausages.
When reaching the factory (just a couple of hours after the harvesting begins in the early morning), the peas are tipped into what is called a flotation washer. Peas float in water, so anything that isn’t a pea is washed away – clever, eh? This is followed by a pod remover (to remove any stubborn bits of pea pod and stalk) and another wash to make sure they’re super clean.
The peas are then blanched for just a few seconds then are colour sorted by a fancy machine which uses lasers to remove any peas that aren’t the right shade of green. They’re then quickly frozen and laser sorted again – just to be on the safe side!
Then it’s off to be packed and stored a huge coldstore, ready to be sent to the Goodlife factory just a few days later.
It’s really important for our Vegenistas to understand exactly where our ingredients come from and the processes they go through to get from farm to factory. Hopefully soon we’ll be able to see the Parsnip harvest, as the ideal time to pick them is after the first frost of the year!