Tuesday, 9 December 2014

All hail the frozen pea, and Clarence Birdseye

Today let's celebrate the birthday of Clarence Birdseye, born this day in 1886 in Brooklyn, New York, son of a lawyer, also Clarence and descendant of an immigrant from Berkshire, England in the early 17th century.
Freezing peas was a major industry in Norfolk when I was a child, and the fast freezing technique Birdseye pioneered has a Canadian connection. According to a Wikipedia article while working between 1912 to 1915 in Labrador Birdseye became further interested in food preservation by freezing, especially fast freezing.
He was taught by the Inuit how to ice fish under very thick ice. In -40°C weather, he discovered that the fish he caught froze almost instantly, and, when thawed, tasted fresh. The story in England was that frozen fish sold better on the coast than inland as inlanders weren't used to the taste of fresh fish.

Now frozen vegetables, and especially peas, one of the world's healthiest foods, means green vegetables are available to enrich the diet of even the Labrador Inuit.

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