How to Shell Peas. Many southerners know that big, home-cooked meals often begin with plenty of hands pitching in to help. That way, everyone involved can reap the fruits of their labors as they join together at the table. One of these traditional chores is shelling loads of peas. Of course, one could use a machine, but they'd be missing out on a time-honored tradition. Here is how to shell peas.
Begin by washing the pea pods thoroughly to remove any dirt and grit that might be there. This will avoid any unwanted dirt falling into the container of freshly shelled peas.
Soak the pea pods in water for a while. This step is not at all necessary, but some find that the water softens the pods up a bit and makes the process go a little easier.
Set up a comfortable work space. To get a good amount of peas, a great deal of shelling has to be done, so you'll want to be seated in a place where you don't mind spending a couple of hours. Some people enjoy sitting on the floor with their containers between their knees.
Snap off both ends of the pea pod. Simply grasp the pea pod with thumb and forefinger, leaving the tip exposed. Snap off the end using the thumb and forefinger of your free hand.
Remove the strip in the middle of the hull by grasping it at the top with your fingers and pulling downward, much like shucking corn.
Pry open the pod at the seam using your thumbs. Some pods tend to be a little stubborn, but it's nothing a little pushing won't overcome.
Rake the peas out of the pod using your fingers and let them drop into the empty container.
Repeat these steps until you've gotten the desired amount of peas, the pods are all gone or your fingers become too sore to continue, whichever comes first.
Some irritation can occur under the thumbnails after a long shelling session. Should this happen, just soak your fingers in a bath of warm water and Epsom salt to relieve the soreness.