Peas or pea pods come from vining or low-growing plants from the legume family that actually prefer cool weather and reach maturity relatively quickly, hence their popularity on spring menus after the produce drought that is winter. Hence also their ability to be grown in cool, damp places such as England, after which a particular variety of peas takes its name. The peas themselves are actually the seed of the plant, for which the pod that contains them is technically the fruit.
English Peas. A Proper Variety
English peas, garden peas, or sweet peas generally refer to the same thing and are the spherical variety often found in packages of frozen peas that many of us grew up chasing around our dinner plates. They grow in pods that are too fibrous to ingest, thus they are shelled and the pods discarded. The peas are starchy and sweet and just about as versatile as produce can get. Enjoy them raw or cooked, in everything from salads, to quiches, to pastas. Utilise them whole, or puree them for baby food, soups, sauces, or dips.
Snow Peas. Hold the Snow Please
Snow peas are an edible-podded variety that appear flat and almost translucent. Technically, the pods are unripe, and the visible peas within the pod are clearly immature and not yet spherical. The pods themselves don’t contain any non-digestible fibre, and therefore are consumed in their entirety. The flavour is mild and slightly sweet, though more vegetal and brighter in character than English peas. Enjoy them just as they come for a healthy snack, with a gentle dose of olive oil, salt and pepper, chopped in a fresh salad, or in their most common and highly tasty application, a savoury Chinese stir-fry.
Snap Peas. Crackle and Pop Optional
Snap peas, or sugar snap peas, are evidence that it is genetically possible to get the best traits out of both parents. They exist as the result of crossing a shelled pea variety with snow peas. The pods are rounder than snow peas and more closely resemble the pods of English peas, but are fully edible, with a medium-sweet flavour, hence the “sugar.” Enjoy them as you would snow peas, though they are especially delightful for eating in their purest, crunchy state.
So, there you have it. Try your own hand at growing these beauties. All of our varieties have been selected with different qualities so you are guaranteed to find something perfect for your garden or allotment. Still unsure? Get in touch and one of our team will be more than happy to recommend a variety.