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Peas to please



Mushy peas are a menu must-have for shops across the country and, as with many other items, all friers have their own secrets of the trade to make sure theirs stand out. Here we speak to three leading friers to see how they do things differently



Fred Capel, owner of Chez Fred, Westbourne, Bournemouth



What method do you use?

We make our own mushy peas from scratch in an open pan. In my opinion, taking the time to do your mushy peas from dried creates a better product and there is more profit to be made. You can also use them as an added value product in meal deals, so you’re giving good value to the customer but it’s not costing very much.

What peas do you use?
The best peas in my opinion are Great Greens or Super Greens as they give a more consistent colour and a better appearance.

What method do you use?
We soak the marrowfat peas with bicarbonate of soda for 24 hours as I find this gives a softer, better product, and we do this in the fridge so that we get consistency all year round, whether we’re doing it in January or July. We cook using an induction hob as there’s less chance of the peas catching and they can be left until they reach boiling point - we only need to keep an eye on them, stirring occasionally once they start to break down.



How often do you make your mushy peas?
We make up 2kg batches of dried peas at a time, and we get through about 40kg a day of dried peas. We cook them as we need them and we tend to do two batches at a time. Some will go straight into the bain marie and the rest we put in to tubs and cool down so they can be reheated with a splash of water later on.

What portion sizes do you offer and what’s your profit margin?
We sell a 6oz portion for £1 and the cost per serving to us is 3.75p, plus the cost of packaging, so there’s a lot of profit to be made. We also do a 4oz portion, which we include with our mini fish and chips meal, but we don’t sell that separately.

What do you serve your mushy peas in?
At the moment we are using polystyrene tubs but we are looking to upgrade that.

How many portions do you sell a week?
We sell thousands of portions a week. I simply wouldn’t open a shop now without mushy peas, they are that integral to my business.

What advice would you give to others serving mushy peas?
It’s very important to make sure the dried peas are cleaned thoroughly before cooking as you get a really great looking pea, plus it avoids the need to use any food colouring. So, be rough with them, don’t be scared, it’s a hard, dried pea, you’re not going to damage them.


Carl Heery, owner, Fairfield Plaice, Buxton, Derbyshire



What method do you use?
We make our own mushy peas using a 14 litre Big Boy pressure cooker. I’ve made mushy peas the traditional way but I find doing it this way gives me a better end product in a fraction of the time it takes in an open pan. It’s about 20-25% quicker and once I’ve shut the lid and switched the Big Boy on, there’s no stirring or skimming and no chance of them boiling dry. And because it’s quicker, there’s also a saving on gas.

What peas do you use?
Super Greens as they are the best and give a really good end product.



What method do you use?
I soak the peas in water and just a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, and I do this overnight if I’m using them that morning, or in the morning for that tea time. When they are fully swelled up and all the wrinkles have gone, I rinse them until the water runs clean and put them in the Big Boy with a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, a teaspoon of salt and three teaspoons of sugar, then cover them with water leaving about half an inch of water, give it a stir and switch the Big Boy on. If I’m doing a full batch, within 20 minutes I’ll hear a hiss of steam and that lets me know they are ready.

How often do you make your mushy peas?
I make one batch fresh each day, but across Thursday, Friday and Saturday it’s usually five in total. Once the mushy peas are cooked, I decant them into bowls, chill them down and put them in the fridge until they are needed. Then I just heat half a bowl up at a time and put that in the bain marie. We use long scoop ladles to decant the mushy peas from the bain maries into pots and one of those is one portion, which helps speed and efficiency.

What sizes do you sell and what’s your profit margin?
We sell one size, a 6oz for 95p and that gives us an 85-95% profit margin.



What do you serve your mushy peas in?
We use VA Whitley’s biodegradable paper Combi Cup. I think pots are the way to do it, I don’t think it does anything for the presentation when peas are tipped directly onto fish and chips.

How many portions of mushy peas do you sell a week?
About 700 portions a week.

What advice would you give to others serving mushy peas?
Use the best quality peas because it’s a false economy to buy cheaper ones.



James Macnicol, manager, The Boundary, Peterborough



What method do you use?
We use tinned mushy peas and we have done for about seven or eight years now. For us, it’s really a time saver in the morning not having to do the prep and also it helps us keep costs down as we’re not paying somebody to prep them.

What brand do you use?
Batchelors Mushy Chip Shop peas from Friars Pride. They are a really good product, they’re consistent and have just the right colour.

What method do you use?
There’s not a lot to it really. We open the can and add them to our slow burning bain marie, which we keep on heat all day. We just judge it day-by-day how busy we’ll be and open a new can if need be. We always start the day with a fresh tin.



How many portions of mushy peas do you sell a week?
About 300-350 portions. We offer a 4oz portion for 80p and a 7oz for £1, which gives us a profit margin of about 68%. We always make sure staff ask at the end of an order if the customer would like any sides with their fish and chips and we find this works really well at increasing sales of our mushy peas.

What do you serve your mushy peas in?
Polystyrene tubs from Dart supplied by Friars Pride.

What advice would you give to others serving mushy peas?
Have some mint sauce to hand as we do get quite a few customers asking for it to be added to their mushy peas. We simply add half a teaspoon to the pot and give it a stir. Customers love it.





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TOP TIP

Remember, peas are a harvested vegetable, so check for any stray stones or waste matter before soaking


DID YOU KNOW?

A portion of mushy peas counts as one of your recommended five a day. This is a great message to communicate to your customers. 

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“I soak all of my marrowfat peas in large batches, weigh and bag them for the freezer. When ready to cook, I cook from frozen by adding water and Ceres Natural Pea Seasoning. After a good cook, you will not find a hard pea for love or money.”
Nick Damurakis, Athena’s Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex

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Pea seasoning gives consistency to Croft Street


Selling 300 portions a week and being the most profitable item on the menu, mushy peas are a must-have at Croft Street Fisheries in Leeds. With several members of staff tasked with the job of making them, owner Rafael Chandler introduced Ceres Natural Pea Seasoning around 18 months ago to ensure consistency.

He comments: “Previously, we used a pea tablet, which included bicarb and dye, and then added salt and sugar, but everyone’s table measure of salt and sugar is different, so we were getting inconsistencies. Now we add just the one product to the peas, which allows all members of staff to make them and we get the same consistent colour and flavour each time.”



It’s not the only change Rafael has made to the way he makes his mushy peas. When undergoing a shop refurbishment recently, he switched from cooking on a gas hob to an induction hob to negate the need for separate extraction. It’s had two knock-on effects, as Rafael explains. “Not only do the mushy peas cook more quickly, but it also brings the heat levels down in the kitchen as the only heat is off the peas and not off a flame. It’s made a huge difference, especially on a Friday when we are constantly making peas all day.”

Ceres Natural Pea Seasoning contains no artificial colours and is available in 5kg resealable tubs.
Ceres 0845 3711 522 www.worldofceres.com

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Draw a line under dirty pots



Easyliners' heat proof, disposable liners sit inside bain maries to keep pots clean, reducing cleaning time by 95% and cutting costs by up to 75%. They also help retain moisture, keeping mushy peas, baked beans, gravy and curry sauce them fresher for longer. Free samples are available for frier wishing to try out the liners. 
Easyliners 01332 412273 www.easyliners.co.uk

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