We all know that marrowfat peas need a good soak before they can use; for the most part, everyone just leaves them overnight.
After giving the peas a thorough wash, we have to soak them. But what is the optimum soaking time? For years we have just all stuck to the vague instruction of leaving them overnight. But is that 8 hours? 12 hours? Have you ever soaked a batch of peas ‘overnight’ and wondered why they are stubbornly hard even after cooking for over an hour?
As you know the marrowfat pea is a dried pea, this means the cells are pretty close, and there is not a lot of moisture, and there will be pea fibre and a little bit of soil hence why cleaning is so important.
We ran a test to see how much the pea opens up over the soaking period to find the optimum.
We washed the peas thoroughly as described other articles. We added Bicarbonate of soda and filled a lidded container with water and placed in the fridge to soak. We pulled out the peas at 12hr, 24hr & 36 hr and weighed a pea and measured it on a gauge.
There isn’t much to say about a dry marrowfat pea that hasn’t already been said or that you already don’t know. In terms of weight and size, we will be comparing back to this.
At this point, the peas have swelled by 120% (2.2x the dried peas weight) in comparison to the dry marrowfat pea. As you can see, the pea is plump but still quite tight. The skins for the most past are still intact and somewhat gelatinous at this stage.
At this point, the peas have swelled by 131% in comparison to the dry marrowfat pea. As you can see, the pea is plump, and the skins have started breaking, the peas are a lot less gelatinous.
In our final weigh-in, the peas have swelled by 145% in comparison to the dry marrowfat pea. In these photos the peas are very plump, if you look at the single pea, you will notice the little cracks forming in the pea. The skin has not gelatinous feeling and feels thinner too.
❗ If you wash the peas properly, you can soak for this long, if you do not wash as well the water will spoil faster.
‼️ Soaking in the fridge will give you a very consistent soak; if you leave peas out in an ambient room, the soak results will fluctuate. In the summer you will come back to smelly pea water and slimy peas. (If the water stays too warm, bacteria can grow and contaminate your peas.)
You might be scared about soaking for so long. I have heard in the past that peas will sprout if soaked for 24 hours, this did not happen. The act of soaking a pea in water is, so it hydrates and the pea must absorb enough water so that the endosperm, the food source for the tiny plant, expands to break the seed coat and becomes soft. Sprouting a pea would usually take 21 days or so, and the temperatures would need to reach 15c – 27c.
Because we have all just left peas to soak overnight, we thought it would be a good idea to try and elaborate and see what soak period was going to give a better cook. When it comes to dried pulses, the most critical points are to clean well and soak even better. The more we can open the cells of the pea and fill with water, the better, the pea will cook perfectly nearly every time if the cell walls of the pea are fully hydrated.
It may not seem like a big deal, but 2.5x times the weight will mean the pea cells are fully hydrates and will break down a lot more efficiently in the cooking process.