If you paid attention to my pleas for peas last year, you might be reading this after a morning snack of fresh-off-the-vine peas, with a pile of discarded pea shells nearby. Those extraneous pods make for fantastic compost, as they’re full of nitrogen, but if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to suggest you take them in a different direction and make pea shell vinegar.
This is part of Eating Trash, a Lifehacker series where Claire Lower (and a friend or two) convinces you to transform your kitchen scraps into something edible and delicious.
Pea shell vinegar is a delightful, delicate vinegar with the palest green hue you can imagine. You can use it just like champagne vinegar, and it makes a fire Caesar dressing. It’s slightly herbaceous, of course, but you’d have a very hard time placing the origins of the taste (if you didn’t know it came from peas); it’s subtle and nuanced, with a flavor so slight, it never overpowers your recipes.
Everything you need to make pea scrap vinegar:
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It’s also easy to make. Shove your shelled pea pods into a clean jar, then cover them with vinegar. Ideally, this is a white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, with their mothers. A vinegar mother is the yeasty puck that forms and indicates healthy fermentation is happening, just like with kombucha. You can also buy mothers separately.
Cover the lid with cheesecloth, so air can get in but bugs can’t, then put the vinegar in a cool, dark place. In a few weeks, check in, and hopefully you’ll see the formation of your own mother. Decant whenever you’d like to use the vinegar; it’s shelf stable.
I deeply believe most people don’t add enough acid to the things they cook, so having a variety of inspiring vinegars near your stove is always ideal. Decent flavored vinegars are expensive, so making your own is a great way to save money. Try a little on vegetables that are headed for the grill, splash it into sautés, or spoon it into a batch of rice as it cooks for brighter flavor. I wouldn’t even be mad if you added a little to a martini.