Hundred-year-old Creamed Fresh Peas Recipe

Creamed Peas

Sometimes I think that peas are a boring and blasé food; but there are a couple of weeks each year when fresh garden peas are available at the farmers’ market, and that’s a totally different story. Fresh peas are  a to-die-for sweet, yet delicate,  taste sensation – and lovely when served in a traditional “cream” sauce that is made using milk.

I dug out my hundred-year-old cookbooks, and found this recipe for Creamed Peas.

creamed peas recipe
Source: Lycoming Valley Cook Book, Compiled by the Ladies of Trout Run M.E. Church, Trout Run, PA (1907)

The Creamed Peas were lovely and the simple sauce enhanced  the subtle flavors of the tender peas. The dish was simultaneously an easy-to-make,  but almost elegant food, and a delightful comfort food.

Here’s the recipe adapted for modern cooks:

Creamed Fresh Peas

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 tablespoon flour

2 tablespoons milk

2 cups shelled fresh garden peas

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Put the flour in a cup or small bowl, and gradually stir in the 2 tablespoons of milk to make a smooth paste. Set aside.

Put the peas into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the peas, then pour 1/2 cup of milk over the peas. Return to the heat and using a medium heat bring the milk to a boil. Quickly, but gently, stir in the flour paste. Cook the creamed peas for a few seconds while continuing to stir until the milk mixture thickens. Remove from heat and serve.

I was surprised that the recipe author didn’t make a white sauce that was poured over the peas, but instead covered the peas with milk, heated it, and then stirred in a flour paste to thicken it. Maybe she was trying to minimize the number of pans on the stove.  I made the recipe using the flour paste, but it would work fine to make the white sauce separately.

63 thoughts on “Hundred-year-old Creamed Fresh Peas Recipe

    1. This recipe could also be made using frozen or canned peas. I not sure why, but I don’t think that I’ve ever seen fresh garden peas for sale in the supermarket. Thank goodness the farmers’ markets in my area do sell them for a few weeks each year.

  1. Yum! They look like something I loved as a child. Would love to have some right now. But I was confused by the “old” recipe calling for the peas to be mashed. Or did I just not understand. Anyway, what you picture and prepared look delicious.

    Another comment. Your family is lucky!

    1. Old recipes are so difficult to interpret – and often can be interpreted several ways. This recipe says to “cook until you can mash easily with a fork.” I took this to mean that I should take a couple peas out of the water and see if they were tender by trying to mash them with a fork. I decided they were tender (actually, to be honest, I skipped this step) and proceeded with the recipe without mashing the remainder of the peas. That said, I can definitely see that the recipe could to interpreted to mean that all the peas should be mashed (though I think that the dish would end up being more like pea soup than creamed peas). 🙂

  2. I like that you didn’t mash the peas. I think making a “roux” with butter and flour in another pan and then adding the milk and peas would give it more flavor, too. I haven’t had fresh peas since last season, I guess I better go get some soon while they are still available!

    1. I interpreted the recipe to mean that I was just to test a few peas to see if they had been cooked until they were tender by trying to mash them- and not that they all should be mashed. That said, I think that there are also other plausible ways to interpret this recipe. It always seems like peas are available for only a few weeks each year, so you’d better start looking for them. 🙂

  3. I don’t believe I’ve ever found fresh green peas here. Our summer delight is in right now — Lady Cream Peas. They’re in the same family as purple hulls and black-eyed, but they’re smaller, with a softer taste. They’re traditionally cooked with onion, garlic, and bacon, although I remember seeing a Southern Living recipe that involved a cream sauce of some sort. I’ll try and find it, to compare with yours.

    Lucky you, to have real fresh peas! When I was growing up, Mom often would combine the peas with diced carrot, and then cream them. So good!

    1. mmm. . . A mixture of peas and carrots would be nice. I don’t think that I’ve ever had Lady Cream Peas, but I like black-eyed peas, so I’d probably enjoy them. Cooking them with onion, garlic, and bacon sounds wonderful.

  4. I would have hated this as a kid, but along with creamed carrots, they are now a favorite. This looks great. Thanks for posting, Sheryl. 🙂

    1. It’s wonderful to hear that you liked this photo. I’m trying to work on my food photography – but the photos for some of my recipes definitely turn out better than others. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the suggestion. My father always loved butter peas – and as a child I really disliked them. I think that it’s time that I give them another try. I’m betting that I’d enjoy them now.

    1. I agree! Most fruits and vegetables are readily available year round, but fresh peas (at least around here) are one of the few vegetable that are available only when they are in season locally. It makes them extra special. 🙂

  5. This sounds good. An old English recipe has you line the pan with the outer leaves of lettuce, put in a good knob of butter, and very little water with the peas as they cook (cover the pan). It seems to enhance the sweetness of the peas somehow, and I nearly always do this when peas are in season ( just beginning here in England).

    1. I’m planning to buy some more peas at the farmers’ market this week. I’ll have to give this a try. I’m intrigued by the idea of cooking the peas in a lettuce-lined pan.

  6. Thank you this post bought back memories of picking the peas and then shucking them and eating a few as well…I can only get Mange Tout here or these frozen bullets they call peas but the memories are priceless 🙂

    1. You should give this recipe a try. You might like it. I’ve found that I enjoy foods like this much more as an adult than what I did as a child.

    1. I never thought about it quite this way before, but it would be wonderful if these old recipes help people realize that simple dishes can be delightful. 🙂 Good food doesn’t need to be fancy.

  7. This is interesting to me because it never occurred to me that creamed peas were basically peas with a sauce in or over them. I agree that a white sauce would be good with this, maybe an alfredo sauce would be extra tasty too.

  8. Yum, fresh peas are the best. This is how my mother made creamed peas except that she covered the peas with heavy cream rather then milk. Got to love that cholesterol!

    1. Creamed peas are definitely a classic that has stood the test of time. Lemon zest sounds like wonderful addition to this recipe. I’ll have to give it a try.

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